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actions settled Family of welder who died when struck by steel column at Dublin Port settles for €1.25m

James Byrne (39) was killed instantly in 2018 when the six-foot column fell on top of him


James Byrne killed instantly

James Byrne killed instantly

James Byrne killed instantly

The family of a welder who died when a steel column fell on him as he worked at Dublin Port has settled a number of High Court actions over his death for over €1.25million.

James Byrne (39) was killed instantly on June 6, 2018, when the six-foot column fell on top of him shortly after he had been using a blowtorch to separate it from a larger metal structure.

Yesterday, his partner Paula Murray, of Griffeen Glen Dene, Lucan, Co Dublin, and their two sons Nathan (21) and Callum (13) settled an action over his death and also a number of nervous shock actions.

The settlements, which in the case of Ms Murray comes to a total of €1.1m and a total of €150,000 in relation to her sons, was against Mr Byrne's employer, Doyle Shipping Group Unlimited Company, with a registered address at Ocean Pier, Alexandra Road, Dublin 1.

Two years ago, the shipping company was fined €850,000 when it pleaded guilty in the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to failing to manage work activities, specifically the dismantling of a steel hopper at the McKearns Yard at Ocean Pier, in a way to ensure the safety and health of its employees, as a consequence of which Mr Byrne suffered personal injury and died.

The court heard Mr Byrne, an experienced welder, had dismantled two six-metre upright support bars from a metal lattice the day before.

On the day of the accident, he was working on a third support bar and had to use a blowtorch to cut through the part of the bar welded to the grid. He stood up and as he walked towards his van, the column fell over, striking him on the head.

Ms Murray, represented by John Healy SC, with Eugene Gleeson SC, claimed there was a failure to provide a safe system of work and an alleged failure to ensure the site was maintained in a safe condition.

The court heard there was an admission of liability in relation to a breach of duty.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey noted and approved the settlements and a division of €35,000 solatium, a statutory mental distress payment.

The judge extended his deep sympathy to Ms Murray and her sons.

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Circuit Court Judge Pauline Codd, who imposed the €850,000 fine on Doyle Shipping, said the employer breached its obligation to ensure employees are not put at unnecessary hazard.

She said the absence of planning the task meant that equipment was not utilised as it should have been.

The judge said the mitigating factors in the case were the guilty pleas, the co-operation with the accident investigation and the good safety record, as well as the significant expenditure to ensure it did not happen again.

At the time, in a statement outside the court, Ms Murray said her family would never get over the loss of James.

"He will never be replaced and will always be in our hearts," she added.

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