A Galway businessman has told the High Court he raised concerns about the care of his two daughters with social services in the months leading up to a fatal crash in which one of them was killed.

The children's mother, who was a chronic alcoholic, was jailed for four years after the 2007 crash in which her six-year-old daughter died and her seven-year-old daughter was injured.

A friend's child was also killed in the accident.

Thomas Varden was giving evidence in a High Court action arising from the accident which took place in Edgeworthstown in 2007.

Mary Carberry crashed into an embankment after she had been drinking for the day.

Faith Varden Carberry, who is now 12, is suing through her grandfather for injuries and psychological trauma.

The case is against her father, mother, who was uninsured, and the Motor Insurers Bureau of Ireland.

Mr Varden was giving evidence about how he provided a car for Carberry although she was banned from driving at the time.

He said he assumed someone else was going to drive it for her.

He believed she had turned a new leaf and was attending Alcoholics Anonymous, and he did not believe she would drive the car.

However, he said he had contacted social services about the welfare of his children a number of times a few months before the accident but nothing was done.

He said his biggest fear was that they would be injured in a fire.

He fought back tears in the witness box as he described how Carberry rang him on the night of the accident in November 2007 and told him Ava was dead and Faith was dying, as they then believed.

He went to Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar where he found Carberry in the morgue with their daughter.

He said he and other family members had been in touch with social services.

On one occasion, he said, the meeting in Naas ended towards 5pm and social workers "couldn't wait to get out the door" because they were finished for the week.

When he asked what he could do if he had concerns for the children, they told him to contact gardaí.

Mr Varden, of Renville Village, Oranmore, Co Galway, described how at the age of 60 he met Carberry hitchhiking.

She was 23 at the time and had recently been in a psychiatric hospital. They had a relationship lasting a number of years.

They had two children but did not live together. He said he provided money for her but she never had a real occupation.

She went on to have relationships with other men and had two more children.

In cross-examination, he denied that the reason he had bought the new car which was involved in the crash was to avoid her being detected by gardaí if she drove another car which was in her name.

The case continues tomorrow.