Wednesday, September 12, 2007

GUILTY ..after circus trailer broke loose and hit a car, killing mum & daughter; OWNER CHANGES PLEA.(News)

GUILTY ..after circus trailer broke loose and hit a car, killing mum & daughter; OWNER CHANGES PLEA.(News)

Byline: By ANN HEALY

A CIRCUS boss admitted yesterday that a runaway trailer which killed a mother and her young daughter was faulty.

Joan and Siobhan Reilly died instantly after their car was hit by the trailer which broke free because of a faulty safety latch.

Stephen Courtney, 35, had denied charges of intentionally or recklessly attaching a trailer in a defective manner but changed his plea in Galway Circuit Criminal Court.

Courtney, from Earl Street in Longford town, pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment by allowing a trailer to be attached to a lorry in a deceptive manner and thereby causing a substantial risk of death.

The driver of the truck towing the trailer, Francisco Daria, 23, a Venezuelan national from Cherrywood Park, Dublin, also changed his plea to guilty on two dangerous driving charges.

The accident happened on April 6 last year on the N17 at Cloonacauneen, near Galway city.

One of the trailers became detached from another carrying two elephants.

It then plummeted down a hill before smashing straight into the victims' car.

Mrs Reilly, who was in her 50s, from Cloon, Claregalway, Co Galway, was taking 25-year-old Siobhan to work at 5.48am when the collision happened.

Lawyer Conor Fahy said the lorry cab with two trailers attached was dangerously defective.

He claimed that a safety pin or chain had not been fitted to the hitch of the second trailer to prevent the hitch pin from "hopping up".

The emergency braking system on the trailer was not connected either, he said.

Following the change of pleas, Judge Raymond Groarke discharged the jury and adjourned sentencing in the case to December 12.

He directed a victim impact report on the women's next of kin be prepared for that date.


COURT: Francisco Daria and Stephen Courtney in Galway yesterday

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