Case against haulage company over unsecured forklifts on Limerick motorway thrown out

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Photographs of the truck and forklifts were sumbitted

Photographs of the truck and forklifts were sumbitted

A CRIMINAL prosecution brought against a haulage company and one of its drivers was dismissed after a judge ruled the summons before the court was “fundamentally defective”.

Hemps Haulage limited which has a registered address at Blessington, County Wicklow was prosecuted in relation to a detection on the M7 motorway near Castleconnell on May 26, 2017.

The driver of a three-axle truck which was stopped  –  Dale Haran, 52, who has an address in Finglas, Dublin –  was also before Limerick District Court accused “failing to take adequate precautions to permit a load from falling”.

Garda Brian O’Dywer of the divisional Roads Policing Unit said he was on duty at a multi agency checkpoint when a truck being driven by Mr Haran was stopped at around 11.45am.

While speaking with the defendant at the scene he noticed something “sticking out through” the side of the trailer and made further enquiries. 

He told Judge Brian O’Shea he subsequently established that five Hyster forklifts – each weighing around three tonnes – were being transported by Mr Haran.

While there was no issue with the overall weight of the load, Garda O’Dwyer said he did not believe the forklifts were properly secured.

“I observed worn blue ratchet straps which was not good enough. The load was unsecured and I highlighted this to the driver,” he said. 

Garda O’Dwyer said under road traffic regulations special-purpose chains should have been used to secure each of the forklifts on the trailer.

He added that the side curtains on trailers such as the one he stopped “are there to keep products dry” and designed to secure a load.

Sergeant Kevin Bourke, who was called as an expert witness, said the ratchet straps which were used did not have the structural integrity to stop the forklifts from moving in the event of an accident or heavy braking. 

”One it begins to move, it builds momentum, it’s a House of Cards scenario,” he said adding that he did not believe the person who loaded the forklifts was properly trained in load security.

Being questioned by solicitor Darach McCarthy, Sergeant Bourke agreed he did not examine any of the forklifts or the ratchet straps and that the report he prepared was based on photographs which were taken at the scene by Garda O’Dwyer.

He agreed there is confusion generally in relation to how heavy loads should be properly secured and that he has encountered loads which had been secured in a similar way in the past.

Following the conclusion of the prosecution case, Judge O’Shea said he had concerns in relation to law.

He said he was “struggling to reconcile” the alleged offence before the court with the particulars as outlined on the summons.

The judge said there is a difference between taking preventative measures and actively carrying an unsecured load as was outlined to the court.

”The particulars of the offence on the summons do not reconcile with an offence known to the law,” he said.

Dismissing the prosecution, he said he was of the view the summons was “fundamentally defective”.