Belfast Telegraph

My world has caved in, says dad of man killed in Australia

By Amanda Poole

“He WASN’T just my son, he was my friend.”

The words of Frank McMullan, the grieving father of Northern Ireland man Gareth McMullan who died in a work accident in Australia earlier this month.

Gareth, who turned 27 in June this year, was working as an engineer at a gold mine for Camco Engineering in Perth, western Australia.

Some 20 minutes into his 6pm shift on August 11, he was resetting vertical boring machinery when a piece of equipment sheared off, killing him instantly. After his death counselling was made available for staff at the company’s Canning Vale premises in Perth.

The Ballygowan man had been in Australia for some 18 months, and had become immersed in the laid back Australian lifestyle.

His younger brother Darren, (24) a carpenter, had been with him for a holiday in May and was planning to head out again to see him at Christmas.

Frank McMullan, a retired policeman is heartbroken at the loss of his eldest son. “He wasn’t just my son, he was my friend. We loved him so much. It’s very hard at the moment for the whole family. It’s like a tsunami, with grief coming in waves every 10 minutes.

“It was a freak accident. He was making a turbine for the gold mine and part of the machinery sheared off and killed him instantly. At least we know he didn’t suffer.”

Gareth’s mother Alora, a nurse, said: “I still can’t believe it. It’s so sudden and I am shell-shocked. He was home for a month at the end of June and caught up with all his old friends. He was looking forward to being best man for his best friend David.

“He was just such a happy fella who loved canoeing, shooting and playing in a flute band. When he was home he told us how much he was enjoying life out there. I know he was happy and contented. It

was an accident and nobody’s fault, but I am absolutely devastated and my world has crashed in. It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. You hear stories like this and at the time you think how dreadful it must be for the family and now it has happened to us.”

Mrs McMullan spoke movingly to explain there weren’t enough words to describe how much she loved her son and how much she will miss him. “He worked hard and played hard. We are so proud of him and how he lived life to the full. We have been overwhelmed by people’s kindness and it is a comfort to know how well respected and loved he was by so many people.”

Sister Lyndsay (18) received her impressive A-level results (AAC) yesterday. She plans to study Geography at Queen’s University Belfast to be close to her parents. “Gareth was a fun guy and I will miss his sense of humour. He was always messing about with me, giving me a hard time.

“He was a typical big brother — loving and protective. I can’t believe he is gone.”

The McMullan family said Camco Engineering's managing director Bruce Cameron had been a great support to the family. He organised a memorial service for Gareth on Wednesday, attended by hundreds of friends and co-workers. The company is flying Gareth’s uncles, Robert and Ivan home from Australia with his remains this evening.

Another uncle, Ronnie McMullan said: “He was a gentle giant and a well liked young man.He was loved by all his family and friends and will be sadly missed by the whole community.”

Gareth’s funeral is to take place on Tuesday at Ballygowan Presbyterian Church, 1pm.

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