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Two men sent forward for trial over Greenvale Hotel crush

The owner and a self-employed member of security staff at a Co Tyrone hotel, where three teenagers died during an event there five years ago, have been returned for trial following protracted legal argument.

Lauren Bullock and Morgan Barnard, both 17, and 16-year-old Connor Currie died as a result of a crush involving hundreds of people queuing to enter the Greenvale Hotel in Cookstown, on St Patrick’s Day 2019.

Michael McElhatton, 57, of Rock Road, Moneymore, and Seamus Mitchell, 45, of Mullan Road, Coagh, are jointly charged with unlawfully killing the three teenagers.

As a director of the company Tobin Limited, Mr McElhatton is further charged with failing to ensure that non-employed persons were not exposed to health and safety risks.

Mr Mitchell is accused of being a self-employed person who failed to ensure persons were not exposed to risk.

The case itself first reached Dungannon Magistrates Court on 2 December 2022, where it was scheduled to be returned straight to trial, but numerous adjournments followed on the part of the defence.

The crush occurred as hundreds of people queued outside the hotel

In a ruling today, District Judge Michael Ranaghan said the victims lost their lives from compression asphyxia caused by crowd crush and “the Prosecution say Mr McElhatton failed to protect persons not in his employment and Mr Mitchell is said to be self-employed and, in that capacity, failed to conduct his responsibilities to others.”

The judge said that Mr McElhatton as a director of Tobin Limited (against which criminal proceedings are not challenged) was “the controlling mind and acted in a hands-on capacity within the company and is contended personally and criminally liable. Mr Mitchell likewise as self-employed is, the prosecution say, criminally liable.”

The event was sold as a “queue-skip” system, whereby bus-operators organise the trip and patrons pay them to be transported and provided with a ticket, which gets them into the venue without having to queue.

The judge continued: “To describe the event as a tragedy is an understatement. Conor, Lauren and Morgan lost their lives that night … I hope using their names gives them a voice in these proceedings.”

He added: “Mr McElhatton and Mr Mitchell did not mean to cause any harm. That is not the prosecution case. It is a breach of duty-of-care to Conor, Lauren and Morgan and the prosecution say they are criminally liable and there was a fundamental failure to ensure the safety of persons.”

Michael McElhatton owned the Greenvale Hotel, where the fatal incident occurred in 2019

The defence argued the prosecution had failed to establish their clients had failed in their duty of care and therefore criminally liable.

However, Judge Ranaghan noted there had been issues at the Greenvale Hotel before which must have been known and the prosecution contends the event was oversold on “queue-skip” tickets alone, there was also no Risk Assessment and insufficient door staff on duty.

It is contended that 56 safety breaches were found against both Mr McElhatton and Mr Mitchell.

A further 21 are alleged solely against Mr Mitchell.

Judge Ranaghan found that as matters stand Mr McElhatton and Mr Mitchell owed an existing duty-of-care under their respective roles.

He said: “There is a sufficiency of evidence to put before a jury to allow a determination as to whether there is a criminal sanction.”

Mr McElhatton and Mr Mitchell spoke only to confirm their identities and that they understood the charges.

They were remanded on £500 bail to appear for arraignment on a date and court venue to be fixed.


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