The family of a man killed when a digger bucket fell on top of him after a safety pin had not been fitted to the machine asked a judge not to send the driver to prison.

Francis Callaghan died after an accident at a building site in Milford on January 8th, 2007.

He had been helping to lift heavy manhole covers when the bucket of a digger came loose and fell on top of him.

His co-worker and friend Dermot Boyce appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court charged with a breach of the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act.

Mr Boyce, 47, pleaded guilty to failing to attach a safety pin to the Komatsu digger minutes before the accident.

The court was told that Boyce had only minutes earlier wished Mr Callaghan a happy new year and chatted for a while before the accident at the site at Forfar, Milford.

He had planned to fill his machine with diesel at another part of the site but was called away by site foreman Owen Curran to lift the manhole covers.

All the manhole covers but one were lifted using an improvised lifting chain.

Seconds later the bucket of the digger came loose and fell on top of the victim from Shanagh in Fanad.

Health an Safety officer Greg Murphy told the court that if the safety pin had ben put in there was no way the digger bucket would have fell off.

Barrister Damien Crawford said his client Mr Boyce was a very good worker who had all the relevant documentation including a SafePass and a work ticket.

He had been driving a digger for 16 years and was a very quiet and unassuming man.

He also revealed how he has asked his employers to provide him with a safety pin for months as one had not been fitted.

Mr Boyce, from Knockbrack in Kerrykeel, only received the 12 inch long pin a week or two before the accident.

Barrister Crawford said his client was racked with guilt since the accident, was depressed and was now suffering panic attacks and flashbacks about the accident.

“I asked him how he was today and he told me he felt like the courthouse was sitting on his head,” said Mr.Crawford.

He added he had spoken to the Callaghan family and they said they did not want to see Mr Boyce go to jail as his admission had helped them to come with their loved one’s death.

Judge John O’Hagan said he did not propose to send him to jail or to fine him the maximum fine of €3 million euro for the offence.

“His life is in tatters. He has been punished very severely for what has happened.

“It must be of great relief that somebody has put their hand up. It’s often somebody says ‘I will fight you tooth and nail.’ He has put his hand up and admits he didn’t put the pin in,” said Judge O’Hagan.

He sentenced Mr Boyce, a father and grandfather, to three months in prison but substituted it with 150 hours community service.

“When it’s finished (the community service) that’s it. Go and enjoy those wonderful grandchildren of yours,” added Judge O’Hagan.

Ends


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