A father saw his three-year-old son crushed to death when a one-tonne telephone pole rolled on top of him at Drogheda Port, Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court heard today.

Desmond Dyas from Clogherhead had been walking along a pole in November 2009 when a nearby stack of poles were dislodged while being loaded onto a truck.

The court heard that his father, also Desmond, tried to lift the pole off his son but was unable to do so.

A loader had to be used to remove the 22-metre timber pole.

Before the court was the stevedoring company that was loading the polls onto lorries, Patrick Monahan Ltd from Drogheda.

It pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure people were not exposed to risks and was fined €25,000.

Inspector Mark Madigan from the Health and Safety Authority told Judge Michael O'Shea that the section of the port where the accident happened was open and used as a public area.

Mr Dyas and his son had been watching the loading of the poles onto trucks. Mr Dyas held his son's hand as he walked down a single pole that was on the ground.

His son then wanted to walk down on his own. As he did so, poles from a nearby stack were dislodged as they were being lifted onto a truck. One of the poles rolled onto the boy, crushing him.

Mr Madigan said there were no chocks present on three of the four stacks, which would have prevented the poles from rolling, no efforts had been made to keep the public away from the area, and there was no health and safety assessment drawn up for handling that type of cargo at this location by the company.

However, he acknowledged that this cargo is usually unloaded at another part of Drogheda Port, Tom Roe's Point, which is secure and not open to the public

The ship was ordered to discharge its cargo where it did on the orders of the Harbour Master.

Passing sentence, Judge O'Shea said no words of his could bring back Desmond. The boy had been doing what young children would always want to do.

Taking all the factors into consideration, he imposed the fine of €25,000 on the company.

Speaking briefly afterwards, Mr Dyas said he wanted to thank members of the public for their support and prayers.