Two Irish barmen have been accused of unlawfully killing a British visitor by serving him too much alcohol in a landmark trial brought under Ireland’s “liquor liability” laws.
Graham Parish, a father of two young children from Nelson, east Lancashire, had been celebrating his 26th birthday when he downed ten shots in one glass and slumped on his barstool in the Hayes Hotel, in Thurles, Co Tipperary.
He was carried to a room to sleep it off only to be found by the night porter at 6.15am the following day with vomit on his face. He was pronounced dead an hour later.
Gary Wright, 34, and Aidan Dalton, 29, the two barmen, both of Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary, deny manslaughter in the first criminal case to be brought under the controversial laws. The prosecution follows a lengthy police inquiry.
The dead man’s parents, David and Julie, and sister Jess were in court for the case, which is expected to run until early next week.
Paddy McCarthy, opening for the prosecution, told the jury at Nenagh Circuit Court, that the pair were accused of gross negligence leading to the death of Mr Parish, a guest at the hotel, on June 30, 2008.
The court was told that Mr Parish had been drinking Guinness for more than three hours before a vodka shot was poured into his pint glass. He drank it in one go. Mr McCarthy said: “Some competition went on and he said he could down ten spirits in a pint glass before his colleagues could down their pint.
“The barman filled it up, asked the manager and the manager gave the OK. He downed the drink in one go.”
Mr Parish, a pipe fitter, was visiting Thurles with colleagues to carry out a job at Dew Valley Foods Ltd.
Witnesses told the court that Mr Parish challenged five other British contractors to see who could drink a pint the quickest. Craig Bateson, an electrician, said Mr Parish was drowsy but smiling and trying to open his eyes as four of them attempted to carry him to his second-floor room shortly after midnight.
They left him on his side in the recovery position in the conference room on the first floor while they went for food. He said they checked on Mr Parish before they went to bed and he was snoring.
Friends and neighbours of Mr Parish yesterday described him as a hard-working family man who was not known as a heavy drinker. His wife, Emma, had given birth to his son Tom only weeks before his death.