Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Seán McCárthaigh

The family of a young man killed in a workplace accident at a waste recycling facility in Dublin almost a year and a half ago have criticised the time taken to investigate his death.

Lawyers for the parents of Shane Bellew-Reilly claimed they were “extremely concerned” about the pace of the investigation being conducted by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Shane (23), from Hawthorn Terrace, Moneymore, Drogheda, Co Louth, was killed as a result of injuries he sustained in an incident involving a forklift truck at the Panda waste recycling plant on Cappagh Road, Finglas on August 18th, 2021.

Counsel for his parents, Pat Purcell BL, told a sitting of Dublin District Coroner’s Court on Tuesday that they were very concerned about ongoing delays in the case.

It followed an application by HSA inspector, Colin Garahy, at the start of the hearing for a further six-month adjournment of the inquest into Shane’s death.

Mr Garahy explained to the coroner, Clare Keane, that the file was being internally reviewed by the HSE before being forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Purcell said the HSA had informed Shane’s parents, Sabrina Bellew and Ollie Reilly, in October 2021 that it was difficult to provide a timeframe for the completion of the investigation into their son’s death but it was “likely to take a number of months.”

The barrister said the HSA had subsequently informed the family in May 2022 that the investigation was “nearing completion.”

‘Concerned and upset’

Mr Purcell said his clients, who attended the inquest were “extremely concerned” and “quite upset” when the HSA had provided the same update to the coroner’s court last July with the same information also being relayed to the family last September.

He said the HSA told Shane’s parents on November 2nd that the file on his death had been submitted to the HSA’s legal department for final review before being sent to the DPP for consideration.

“To say they are distraught over the delay is to put it mildly,” remarked Mr Purcell.

He added: “The anxiety, the stress, indeed the grief is being compounded by the delay.”

Shane’s mother, Sabrina, struggled to hold back tears during the short 15-minute hearing.

Mr Purcell acknowledged that the HSA had a very important role to play in relation to Shane’s death but said it had provided no explanation for the delay in completing its investigation apart from it being “ongoing and nearing completion”.

“It is simply not good enough as it’s having a terrible effect on his parents,” said Mr Purcell.

Expressing sympathy for the family’s situation, Dr Keane asked the HSA to contact her office if the matter could be progressed before the case was due back in the coroner’s court in six months.

Criminal investigation

Mr Garahy said he could not elaborate on the case as it was a criminal investigation.

The HSA inspector said he anticipated he would be telling the coroner in six months that the file was with the DPP and they would be awaiting directions on whether there should be a prosecution in the case.

“We have to go through a process,” he added.

Mr Garahy said there had been a substantial amount of work done on the file.

Mr Purcell replied that the family were concerned that the second anniversary of Shane’s death could pass without progress in the case.

Dr Keane adjourned the inquest until July 18th but said she would contact the family if she received any further information before that date.

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