Driver with 483 convictions gets 18 months for killing teenager

Letterkenny court hears Eamon Lynch was travelling at 165km/h when crash occurred

Eamon Lynch leaving court after being given an 18-month sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.  Photograph: North West Newspix

Eamon Lynch leaving court after being given an 18-month sentence for causing death by dangerous driving. Photograph: North West Newspix

 

A man with nearly 500 previous convictions has been jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to careless driving causing the death of a teenager in a two-car collision.

Letterkenny Circuit Court heard that Eamon Lynch had almost 500 convictions, including 280 for traffic offences and 50 for burglary.

He was driving at 165kph when he struck Shane Patton’s car on the main Ballybofey to Letterkenny road near Drumkeen, Co Donegal, in July 2012. Father-of-three Lynch was drunk and had no driving licence, valid NCT, tax or insurance on his car when he hit the 18-year old who had just completed his Leaving Cert.

Lynch fled to Northern Ireland following the tragedy. However, last month he was extradited under a European arrest warrant to face trial for Mr Patton’s death and he pleaded guilty.

The court heard how Lynch, originally from Derry, was driving his Toyota Celica with his partner just after midnight on July 12th, 2012, when the collision happened. The incident was caught on the CCTV system of a local service station.

Garda forensic examiners estimated Lynch was travelling at 165km/h on the road which is governed by a 100km/h speed limit.

Evasive action

Mr Patton, of Cloghroe, Drumkeen, emerged from a side road but Lynch was travelling so fast he did not have time to take evasive action and smashed into the teenager’s car. The occupants of the cars were taken to Letterkenny University Hospital but Mr Patton was later pronounced dead.

His mother, Julie Patton, read a victim impact statement to the court. She said her son, the eldest of a family of three, had just completed his Leaving Certificate and had been accepted on a course to train as a mechanic.

She said the family was heartbroken by the “happy, beautiful boy” being taken from them.His grandmother had to watch him being buried on what should have been a celebration of her 70th birthday.

The court heard how Mr Patton’s car was in good condition and was taxed and insured.

Prosecution counsel Patricia McLoughlin said Lynch had 483 convictions before the current charges.

Remorse

Defence counsel Richard Lyons said his client had written a note to the Patton family in which he wanted to express his deep and genuine remorse.

“I cannot express in words how really, really sorry I am for the loss of Shane. I will never in my lifetime get over this. I know the heartache you are going through but I did not set out to hurt anyone, let alone hurt Shane.”

Judge Martin Nolan said that although drink was a factor, the real factor in the case was Lynch’s speed and how he could not avoid the collision because he was driving at such speed. He sentenced him to 18 months in prison on the careless driving charge and a further three months for drink-driving to run concurrently. He took the other charges into consideration.