Council chief pleads guilty to rubbish depot safety failures after man is crushed to death
The chief executive of a Northern Ireland council has appeared in a courtroom dock to plead guilty to safety failures which led to the death of a father-of-two.
Alan Devenney, a 39-year-old council worker, was crushed to death at a recycling and waste disposal depot where he worked in 2011.
It is understood an industrial skip was being loaded on to the back of a lorry at Coleraine Borough Council's Loughanhill facility when it fell on Mr Devenney.
The council's chief executive Roger Wilson yesterday appeared in the dock at Antrim Crown Court where he pleaded guilty on behalf of the council to three breaches of health and safety legislation. Mr Wilson pleaded guilty in that the council failed to ensure not only the health and safety of their own staff, but also that of the public, and failed to properly organise the running of the site regarding the movement of the public and vehicles.
Mr Devenney's widow Gayle was comforted in court by other family members.
Defence lawyer Michael Boyd said this was the council's first breach in what had previously been an exemplary health and safety record.
However, he added that the deficiencies uncovered were addressed within a matter of days in an effort to ensure such a tragedy would not occur again.
On behalf of Coleraine Borough Council, Mr Boyd offered "sincere and deep sympathy" to the Devenney family.
He said the council hoped the guilty pleas would result in the matter being dealt with expeditiously so as to prevent further stress on the Devenney family.
Mr Devenney had been due to go on holiday the day after the tragedy which took place at the facility on the Gateside Road on July 22, 2011.
Afterwards Mr Wilson, accompanied by the council's director of environmental services, Kieran Doherty, personally offered their sympathy to Mr Devenney's family.
Earlier, prosecution lawyer Roseanne McCormick successfully applied for sentencing to be adjourned until next month to allow victim impact reports to be made.
Judge Desmond Marrinan, agreeing to the adjournment, added his own sympathies to the Devenney family, saying he hoped that the guilty pleas would provide some limited comfort to them, as they would not have to endure a full hearing which could have lasted a fortnight.
Mr Devenney's family did not wish to comment outside court.
At the time of his death, a relative said: "He was a pleasure to know, his smile made you feel the sun was always shining.
"Alan was such a genuine person and I for one will miss him terribly. The place will feel empty without his welcoming smile."
Father-of-two 39-year-old Alan Devenney was killed after being crushed at a council-run recycling and waste facility where he worked. He and his wife Gayle and their children Andrew and Rachel were due to fly to Spain on holiday the following day. The chief executive of Coleraine Borough Council yesterday pleaded guilty on behalf of the council to three safety breaches which led to Mr Devenney's death.