Man (23) jailed for dangerous driving causing deaths of two friends

Six people piled into car driven by Joseph Gilroy, which crashed at high-speed just 550 yards away

Joseph Gilroy was sentenced on  Tuesday after previously pleading guilty to charges including dangerous driving causing the deaths of Shiva Devine (left) and Conall McAleer (right) and serious injury to Rachel Elliott.

Joseph Gilroy was sentenced on Tuesday after previously pleading guilty to charges including dangerous driving causing the deaths of Shiva Devine (left) and Conall McAleer (right) and serious injury to Rachel Elliott.

 

A man who crashed a car in Co Donegal while driving at high speed, resulting in the deaths of two friends and leaving another with life-changing injuries, has been jailed for five years and three months.

Joseph Gilroy (23) was sentenced at Donegal Circuit Court on Tuesday after previously pleading guilty to charges including dangerous driving causing the deaths of Shiva Devine (20) and Conall McAleer (20) and serious injury to Rachel Elliott. He faced other charges including driving without a license or insurance and leaving the scene of an accident.

Gilroy, of Lisnaskea, Fermanagh, was among five people flung from the car when it crashed in Bundoran on August 19th, 2018 after reaching a speeds of up to 121km/h over a short stretch of road.

Judge John Aylmer said despite the “extraordinarily charitable attitude” of the victims and their families, he placed the matter at the higher end of the scale.

He said a sentence of seven years was merited before mitigating factors such as Gilroy’s remorse and early guilty plea were taken into account. He noted that the defendant was a hard-working stonemason and was expecting a child with his partner of six years in October. Judge Aylmer also disqualified Gilroy from driving from 20 years.

Socialising

Garda Oliver Devanney told the court the friends had been socialising in Fermanagh before travelling to Bundoran to attend a nightclub. Six people got into the Peugeot 306 after they left the nightclub and it travelled just 550 yards before crashing on Single Street in the town just after 3am.

Five of those in the car, who were not wearing seatbelts, were thrown out of the boot after it was broke off due to the impact of the collision. The car’s engine was dislodged and found elsewhere as was its axle. A front seat passenger remained in the car and was able to get out himself.

Civilians rushed to the scene to help the injured people. Mr McAleer was pronounced dead while bystanders carried out CPR on Ms Devine for 15 minutes before she died at the scene.

Gilroy fled and hid before gardaí arrived and and phoned his father, who came to Bundoran and took his son to the crash scene where he admitted he had been driving and was arrested.

In a victim impact statement, Ms Elliott, who now uses a wheelchair, said the accident had changed her life forever.

Life sentences

She said all those involved in the crash were living with a life sentence but she did not hold what had happened against Gilroy, who she described as a “good-natured boy with his whole life ahead of him”.

“I don’t blame him in any way for being in a wheelchair,” Ms Elliott said.

Ms Devine’s mother, Nicola said her family’s lives, including that of Shiva’s little boy Kyle, would never be the same again. She described Shiva as beautiful, funny and smart and said she could never have imagined life without her.

Mr McAleer’s mother, Jacqueline McHugh said her son was not vain but very handsome and if you were a friend of his, you had a friend for life.

In a statement read out by his barrister Colm Smyth, Gilroy said he wished he could turn back the clock on all that had happened. He said he wanted to apologise to everyone who was affected by his actions.

A medical report on Gilroy said he was attending counselling and suffered from flashbacks, panic attacks and now keeps himself to himself.