Donegal mother says son could still be alive if cross-border driving ban had been in effect

Derry man Eamon Lynch had almost 500 previous convictions when he killed teenager

Shane Patton had just completed his Leaving Certificate when he was killed by a car driven at 165kph  at Drumkeen in Co Donegal on July 12th, 2012.

Shane Patton had just completed his Leaving Certificate when he was killed by a car driven at 165kph at Drumkeen in Co Donegal on July 12th, 2012.

 

A Donegal mother has said her son could still be alive if a cross-border driving ban scheme had become law sooner.

Julie Patton’s eldest son Shane was just 18 when he was killed close to his home in the Co Donegal village of Drumkeen in July, 2012.

Derry man Eamon Lynch – who had almost 500 previous convictions – had been drinking, and was driving at high speed, when his car struck Shane, who had just completed his Leaving Certificate.

Father-of-three Eamon Lynch pleaded guilty to careless driving causing Shane Patton’s death, and was jailed for 18 months at Letterkenny Circuit Court in January.
Father-of-three Eamon Lynch pleaded guilty to careless driving causing Shane Patton’s death, and was jailed for 18 months at Letterkenny Circuit Court in January.

Lynch had already been banned from driving in Northern Ireland until 2023, and, on the night he killed Shane, had no insurance, tax or NCT on his car.

Ms Patton said her loving son could still be alive if the man who killed him had been also banned from being on the roads of Co Donegal.

Since Tuesday (August 1st) anyone banned on the other side of the border from where they live will have the prohibition extended to their home jurisdiction. Drivers banned in their home jurisdiction would also not be legally allowed to drive in the other as they have no licence.

The law change gives effect to a road safety agreement signed between the Irish and UK in 2015.

“We will never know, but if he was banned on both sides of the border then he might not have been behind the wheel that night,” said Ms Patton on Wednesday. “It makes so much sense that people banned in Northern Ireland cannot now just simply slip across the border and drive here.

“If these new laws do one thing then hopefully it will be to send out a message on both sides of the border that it is unacceptable to break the law. Shane was our first child and he was my pride and joy. Our lives were destroyed when he was taken from us. Our family will never be the same again.”

Lynch was jailed for 18 months earlier this year for killing the teenager while drunk and racing at speeds of up to 160km/hr.

Mrs Patton only realised how horrific Lynch’s criminal record was days after she buried her son.

She said “I just couldn’t believe what I was reading,” she said. “I had to find out who he was so I Googled him. I was trying to make sense of it all. It was then that I discovered all the things that he had done and I also found out that he had been banned from driving until 2023. I just couldn’t believe it. I was just so angry. How could he be out on the road? How could he be driving when he was banned for so long.”

Ms Patton also said she was so angry with the current Legal Aid system in Ireland and how such people can get free legal help.

“I understand that his legal team was only doing his jobm but I am so angry that he was given all this legal help and access to a top barrister when he had such a horrific record of crime. How can that be right? People might not understand that I cannot forgive him, but I can’t.

“He should never have been on that road and traveling at that speed. If he had not been on the road then Shane would have been here today.”