Judge in Killarney lift collapse trial to begin jury address today

The judge in the trial into the collapse of a lift in a Killarney hotel will begin addressing the jury this morning.

Ellickson Engineering Ltd of Kilmurry, Co Waterford, who installed the lift in the Plaza Hotel in 2004, is on trial for a breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act for failing to install a safety electrical system in the lift, and for failing to ensure that nothing about the way it was erected made it unsafe.

The case began at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court on Tuesday, but there’s no one representing the defence so a not guilty plea was entered on their behalf, as is permitted under the Companies Act.

Kilell Ltd, which acquired the trading name and premises of Ellickson Engineering Ltd from a receiver in 2011, are not being prosecuted.

Five members of the Meehan family from Meath and Kildare were seriously injured when the Daldoss Easylife lift collapsed in the Plaza Hotel Killarney on July 9th 2011.

The jury heard technical evidence yesterday, including from Anthony Horan, a specialist in metal engineering; he said following examination under a microscope, fatigue cracks found on parts of the collapsed Plaza Hotel lift occurred over a number of years.

Simon Nicholas Lancaster, a specialist in elevators, explained how a system was supposed to be in place to allow for props, or metal rods, to be activated at the top and bottom of the lift shaft when maintenance was being carried out, to prevent a crush injury.

He said this lift was found to have no prop in place at the top of the lift shaft, and the electrical system that should have enacted this prop system wasn’t installed in the lift at all; he said this was unsafe.

Martin Walsh of Otis gave details of carrying out a pre-inspection of the lift in 2009 when a suggestion was made that his company take over the maintenance of this Daldoss lift from Ellickson Engineering Ltd – Otis already maintained three of their own lifts in the hotel.

He inspected the lift but it wasn’t in-depth; his next interaction with it was in February 2011 when he was called to fix a problem after Otis took over maintenance in 2010.

Two other Otis workers said they were in the Plaza carrying out maintenance on the three Otis lifts in January and February 2011 but were unaware of the other Daldoss lift and didn’t service it.

A man who worked for Ellickson Engineering Ltd at the time the lift was installed, said he believed there was a lack of knowledge among the team in the installation of the product, and they had to call additional help.

Evidence has concluded in the case, and Judge Tom O’Donnell is due to begin his address to the jury this morning; they’ll then retire to consider their verdict.