Keltank?s guilty plea to ABS lead fault

A jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Tuesday that Bus Éireann provided documents to gardaí showing that tests carried out on the vehicles on May 27th, 2005 also concluded that seven of the buses had the bulb removed from a warning lamp on their dashboards. This light indicated to a driver if there was a fault with the ABS system.

One of the companies on trial for breaches of the Health and Safety Act arising from the investigation into the fatal bus crash has pleaded guilty to a new charge

Sonya Kelly, company secretary, pleaded guilty on behalf of Keltank Ltd of Balbriggan to a new charge, in that being aware that ABS sensor leads were disconnected it failed to ascertain whether a hazard arose as a consequence thereof before returning the bus to the driver, Mr John Hubble, on May 5th, 2005.

The company had previously denied two charges of failing to undertake necessary maintenance and repair of the ABS system on the bus on May 6, 2005. Judge Patrick McCartan adjourned the case of Keltank to Friday next when it will be mentioned before him. It was day four of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Mr Brendan Grehan SC, prosecuting said that the trial would proceed in relation to McArdle?s Test Centre Ltd from Dundalk and that at the end of the hearing a nolle prosequi would be entered in relation to the two original charges faced by Keltank.

Mr Joe McArdle, a director, has pleaded not guilty on behalf of McArdle?s, to two charges of failing to note the ABS warning light on the bus wasn’t operational while conducting a vehicle test on March 15th, 2005, two months before the tragedy.

Sergeant Alf Martin told Mr Grehan that the gardaí were also supplied with a letter which the Department of Transport had circulated to ?all heavy good vehicle testers? in November 2003. The letter stated that the department had been made aware that a number of authorised testers ?may not be testing the ABS warning lamps?.

It said that this system was important in all HGV vehicle and the warning lamp ?must be tested?. The department also advised the recipients that since 1992 this test was a requirement before a vehicle could be established as roadworthy.

It stated that those testers which failed to carry out every single aspect of the road-worthiness test would leave themselves open to sanction.

Sgt Martin said that on June 28th, 2005 he received a copy of a testers manual for heavy good vehicles which said that if an ABS system had been fitted to a vehicle the warning lamp must be checked. It stated that if a red light appears in the warning lamp on the vehicle’s dashboard at speeds over 7km/h it indicated that there was a fault in the ABS system.

The manual advised that the ABS system might only be repaired by a mechanic authorised by the manufacturer but stated that the vehicle might still be driven because even if the ABS system was not functioning, the standard brakes would still work effectively.

Sgt Martin told Mr Grehan that he visited Mr Hubble, the injured bus driver, in hospital and asked him about the crash without being formally introduced. He said Mr Hubble mentioned that ?the gardaí would find out if there was something wrong with the brakes?.

Sgt Martin said he met the CIE maintenance manager at Broadstone and was given various documents to assist with the crash investigation, including a number of checklists dealing with parts of the bus involved.

One of these was a SH2(A) form containing a list of bus parts tested and ticked off by mechanics on June 7th, 2005. He was given similar checklist documents dating from March 2005 to November 2004.

Sgt Martin said the maintenance manager also gave him a number of SH3 forms dating from 2004 to 2005 which detailed the estimates of maintenance work done on the bus. Sgt Martin said he took certificates of road-worthiness for the bus dating back to 2000, some of them issued by McArdles Test Centre Ltd.

Sgt Martin told McArdles’ defence counsel, Mr Roderick O’Hanlon SC, that he never visited his client’s test centre. He agreed that a testing centre is not responsible for repairing a vehicle.

Its role was to identify ?fail items? which it then reverted to the garage where the faults should be repaired. Sgt Martin accepted that McArdles were dealing with the testing of the bus involved in this accident while Keltank were responsible for its upkeep.

The trial continues before Judge McCartan and a jury of five men and seven women

Article by