Psychological audit of accused in fatal road incident sought

Shaun Kelly (24) accused of causing deaths of eight men in Donegal in July 2010

A judge has ordered that a man accused of causing the deaths of eight men in one of Ireland’s most high-profile road incidents be psychologically assessed immediately .

Shaun Kelly (24), is accused of causing the deaths by dangerous driving of eight men in Co Donegal in July 2010.

The case against Mr Kelly has been adjourned on several occasions and was due to be heard today.

However, both the defence and prosecution teams said they were not yet ready to press ahead with it. Both said they are currently awaiting reports, including one from a psychologist at the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin.


Judge Keenan Johnston said he was refusing to adjourn the matter from the current sittings of Letterkenny Circuit Court.

He said it was grossly unfair to both the families of the deceased and the accused that the case was dragging on.

Barristers Peter Nolan for the defence and Patricia McLaughlin for the prosecution argued they were trying their best to speed the case along.

Barrister James O’Donnell said he was keeping a “watching brief” for the families involved and said they were extremely anxious to get the matter resolved.

Judge Johnston said both he and his colleague Judge John O’Hagan had tried on several occasions to have the case heard.

“I am acutely aware that there are eight families grieving. Their lives are on hold and it is unfair that this is ongoing,” he said.

He was not prepared to adjourn the matter until the next sittings of the Circuit Court, he went on.

He put back the case until next Tuesday and told Ms McLaughlin, prosecuting, to seek a psychological examination of the accused and to get a report on same.

Judge Johnston sought to reassure the families that the court would “do our level best to get the matter brought to trial as soon as possible”.

Mr Kelly, of Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana, was in court, accompanied by his parents.

Eight men died in the crash on July 11th, 2010 outside Clonmany, Co Donegal.

These were Hugh Friel (66), Urris, Clonmany; Eamon McDaid (22) of Ballymagan, Buncrana; Mark McLaughlin, (21) of Ballinahone, Fahan; Paul Doherty (19), of Ardagh, Ballyliffin; Ciaran Sweeney (19), of Ballyliffin; PJ McLaughlin (21), of Rockstown, Burnfoot; James McEleney (23), of Meenaduff, Clonmany and Damien McLaughlin (21), of Umricam, Buncrana.