*Damien Carmody

A JUDGE has described the circumstances in which a west Clare farmer lost his life in a farm accident as ‘horrific’.

At Kilrush District Court, Judge Mary Larkin made her comment after hearing an outline of the State case concerning Damien Carmody’s death at Doonaha, Kilkee on January 22nd 2021. Mr Carmody had only got married to wife, Elaine 12 months prior to the fatal incident.

One of the two men being prosecuted concerning alleged Health and Safety breaches arising from the farm accident is farmer, John Roche of Doonaha Kilkee.

Judge Larkin commented: “These are all horrific circumstances. This was a man who was his neighbour and his friend”.

In court on Tuesday, State Solicitor for Clare, Aisling Casey said that the case against Mr Roche’s co-accused, Christopher Keane of Bella, Kilkee is to be heard in the circuit court and a Book of Evidence is to be prepared for service in June. She stated that the DPP had recommended that prosecution against John Roche could be heard in the district court.

After hearing an outline of the State allegations in the case, Judge Mary Larkin ruled that the case against farmer, John Roche is to proceed in the circuit court as well.

Ms Casey said that the prosecutions in the case are being taken by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). Ms Casey said that Mr Carmody was “a neighbour and good friend” of Mr Roche.

Outlining the State case, Ms Casey said the case involves a fatal incident which related to an excavation being dug at a farm premises at Doonaha, Kilkee.

Ms Casey stated that it will be alleged that John Roche was the person in control of the farm and he decided to construct an underground concrete slated tank at the farm premises for the purpose of slurry storage.

Ms Casey stated that the slurry storage was to be constructed at the location of an existing slurry storage tank which had been constructed 30 years ago.

She stated that Mr Roche engaged the services of a contractor, Christopher Keane to build the tank who had experience in the area of this type of construction work.

Ms Casey stated that the excavation to accommodate the tank was carried out a few days prior to the incident by workers employed by Mr Keane.

She further alleged that on January 22nd 2021 at around 12 noon, farmer, neighbour and good friend of Mr Roche, Damien Carmody “died as a result of injuries sustained when a pre-existing wall within the excavation which had been dug to accommodate the slurry tank collapsed on top of him”.

Ms Casey stated that “at the time of the incident, Mr Carmody was assisting Mr Keane’s employees who were engaged in pouring concrete within the excavation which was intended to form the floor of the tank”.

Solicitor for Mr Roche, Daragh Hassett told the court that his client wants to put on the record to express his condolences to the family of Damien Carmody.

Judge Larkin ruled to transfer Mr Roche’s case to the circuit court, stating that she took the view that given the consequences all matters should proceed in the same court.

In the case, Mr Roche is facing a summons of failing to appoint a competent project supervisor for the design process for the construction work carried out at the excavation as required by the Health and Safety Act.

Mr Keane is facing four separate summons under the Health and Safety Act arising from the collapse of the sides of the excavation that allegedly resulted in Mr Carmody’s fatality.

Mr Keane is accused of failing to take measures to ensure workers were not exposed to risks to their safety in that the excavation at Doonaha was unsafe and no adequate measures were taken to prevent the collapse of the sides of the exaction on persons working within the excavation and as a consequences of which Damien Carmody suffered fatal injuries.

Judge Larkin adjourned the two cases to June 14th to Kilrush District Court.

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