Dingle fishing company acquitted of all charges in health and safety case

A Dingle-based fishing company has been acquitted by a judge of all charges facing it at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court.

Iasc Geal Teoranta, which owns the Cu na Mara trawler, pleaded not guilty to three charges of breaching the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act.

This case followed the death of Portuguese national Jose Alberto Nova Vareiro who was involved in deploying nets from the Cu na Mara into the Atlantic Ocean to fish for prawns when he fell overboard and drowned on June 30th 2016.

Following two days of prosecution evidence, Defence Barrister, John O’Sullivan made an application to Judge Tom O’Donnell to direct the jury to acquit Iasc Geal Teoranta.

Judge O’Donnell said he was extremely conscious that a man had lost his life and he offered his condolences to members of his family who were present for the trial.

The judge noted this was a technical prosecution and was not about the accident but whether the employer failed in its duty in so far as was practicable to provide a safe place of work.

He said the expert evidence in the case is very significant and there was substantial disagreement between two prosecution witnesses who carried out independent reports on the incident about whether the fisherman should have worn a safety harness while carrying out his duties.

Judge O’Donnell said the ownness is on the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and said the evidence was such that a jury properly directed could not properly convict on it.

He directed the jury to find Iasc Geal Teoranta not guilty by direction of the judge on all three charges and thanked them for their service.