A farmer and another man have been returned for trial relating to alleged health and safety breaches concerning a fatal farm accident, which claimed the life of a west Clare farmer last year.

At Kilrush District Court, State solicitor for Clare Aisling Casey served books of evidence on solicitors for farmer John Roche of Doonaha, Kilkee, and Christopher Keane of Bella, Kilkee, arising from the alleged health and safety breaches connected to the death of Damien Carmody at Doonaha, Kilkee, on 22 January 2021.

Mr Carmody had only got married to wife Elaine 12 months prior to the fatal incident.

In court, Judge Mary Larkin returned both men for trial to the next sittings of Ennis Circuit Court.

Full-time farmer

Solicitor for Mr Roche Daragh Hassett said that his client has not applied for legal aid before now, but was doing so now.

Mr Hassett said that Mr Roche is a full-time farmer and “in my view, his gross net income would qualify for legal aid”.

Judge Larkin said that “it is a serious matter” and she granted legal aid.

Judge Larkin told both accused if their defence is to rely on any alibi evidence, they have to provide details to the State within 14 days.

‘Horrific’ farm accident

In April, Judge Larkin described the circumstances in which Mr Carmody lost his life in a farm accident as "horrific".

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

At the April hearing, 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.

‘In control of the farm’

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 slatted 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 22 January 2021 at around noon, farmer, neighbour and good friend of Mr Roche Damien Carmody “died as a result of injuries sustained when a preexisting wall within the excavation which had been dug to accommodate the slurry tank collapsed on top of him”.

Pouring concrete

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

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 summonses 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 consequence of which Damien Carmody suffered fatal injuries.