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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 27 January, 2020

'This is a criminal investigation': Property developers to be examined in balcony collapse inquiry

The DA has denied the investigation is the result of pressure from Ireland.

THE OFFICE OF the District Attorney for Berkeley in California has announced a criminal investigation will take place into the balcony collapsed that claimed the lives of six students.

District Attorney (DA) Nancy O’Malley denied the inquiry was being launched as a result of pressure from Ireland.

At a press conference, O’Malley gave a clear message to the victims’ families and survivors of the tragedy:

“Each of you deserves to have this matter thoroughly and exhaustively investigated. We will do so and that is the pledge that I make from my office.”

Source: Alameda County District Attorney's Office/YouTube

O’Malley said the incident has “devastated families and communities throughout the Bay area and Ireland”.

The DA noted that the investigation carried out by Berkeley city authorities didn’t have the scope to include forensic or laboratory examinations, but her department’s inquiry does.

It will examine whether gross criminal negligence charges can be brought against individuals or entities, including the property developer and contractors who built the Library Gardens apartment complex.

Eoghan Culligan funeral Mourners attend the funeral of Eoghan Culligan at the Church of the Annunciation, Rathfarnham in Dublin. Source: Niall Carson

O’Malley said the investigation is of a criminal nature, but there is a possibility it could find no grounds to bring a criminal prosecution.

Berkeley Balcony Collapse Source: AP/Press Association Images

“This is a criminal investigation. There are multiple questions that my office has to be able to answer in order to determine whether or not the facts warrant criminal charges.

We will be looking at the laws that surround criminal negligence … that which involves more than just ordinary carelessness, inattention or mistaken judgment. Criminal negligence occurs when a person acts with negligence in a reckless way that creates a high risk of death or great bodily injury.

The Irish Times is reporting this morning that the parents of one of the victims, Ashley Donohoe, have presented evidence to the DA which they claim shows a litany of ignored problems at the building dating back a number of years.

Read: ‘Life is short. I intend to honour those who died by living the happiest and most fulfilling life possible’

Read: Erin Brockovich tells Berkeley families it’s her “duty” to offer them assistance

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Órla Ryan

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