Inquest questions over Newbridge pub stairs

Naas Courthouse

Naas Courthouse

Questions have been raised about the technical and building regulations of a stairs at a Newbridge pub during an inquest into a fatal accident there on 19 August 2012.

Derek Phelan (46), a cabinet maker, of Roseberry, Newbridge, after he was found at the bottom of the steps in Swifts pub, part of its bar.

At an inquest on February 4, County Coroner Dr. Denis Cusack, concluded that Mr. Phelan’s death was accidental and came about because of head injuries secondary to a fall from a stairs in the pub, which happened around 2.00 am.

He recommended that Kildare County Council (KCC) follow up on a report on the stairs, but said that did not stop Swifts doing its own assessment.

Willie Hannigan (KCC) said there are technical guidelines on the height and width of steps.

In Swifts, which was semi-public area it appears was a differences between the rises and widths. But, he said, while the Council told Swifts the steps complied with the technical guidelines they did not necessarily comply with the building regulations.

Mr. Hannigan said a report would sent to the owners.

Damien Gleeson, recalling his eight years working at Swifts, three as bar manager, said there had been the “maybe the odd slip” there before but nothing as serious. He said no changes had been made to the steps since the 19 August, 2012.

Barry McCormack, solicitor for Mr. Phelan’s family, said the family wanted media reports of the time corrected to say that the accident happened in the pub, not, as stated in some media (not this newspaper) the nightclub section of the premises.

Witnesses told how they had met Mr. Phelan earlier. While one, Helen Murray, said “he seemed to be a staggering a bit” as he passed to the toilets on one occasion.

Another witness, Martin McKenna, said Mr. Phelan “did not seem drunk.”

Tests showed he had 282mg alcohol per 100ml of blood (or a 327mg urine reading) in his system.

Teresa Moore said she was a regular at Swifts. “I have fallen down the stairs a good few times. I think it is because they are tiled. There is a metal handrail. There would be less risk if the stairs was carpeted,” she said.

Another witness, Michele Delamere, who knew the Phelan family said Mr. Phelan had told someone that he had “a few too many.”

On the matter of stairs, she said: “I always felt the tiles (of the stairs) were lethal..too steep.”

Medical evidence said there was no evidence of a heart attack.

Sympathies were extended to the family at the end of the inquest, which heard that Mr. Phelan’s wife, Mary, had passed away last November.




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