Donegal road death inquest returns verdict of unlawful killing

Inquest system which did not allow any blame or culpability to be aired, coroner says

A car in which seven men died is taken away from the scene of a crash in Co Donegal. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire.

A car in which seven men died is taken away from the scene of a crash in Co Donegal. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire.

 

A jury at the inquest into the deaths of eight men who died in a Co Donegal road crash has returned a verdict of unlawful killing.

Seven friends died in a car being driven by Shaun Kelly outside Clonmany on July 11th, 2010. Pensioner Hugh Friel died in the other vehicle when Kelly crashed into him.

The inquest was beset by legal arguments over the involvement of a third vehicle on the night of the incident.

Coroner Dr John Madden told the families an inquest was not going to provide all the answers. He said he was bound by the inquest system which did not allow any blame or culpability to be aired. However this did not apply to Kelly who removed “his cloak of armour” when he pleaded guilty to causing the deaths, he said.

Dr Madden said the worst thing any parent can do to bury their own child. He said it was the “most difficult and stressful” inquest in which he had ever been involved.

The verdict recorded deaths from injuries consistent with a road traffic accident. The jury agreed the deaths were “unlawful killings caused by dangerous driving”.