Inquest into Inishowen car crash to go ahead with ‘edited’ witness list

Solicitor for Shaun Kelly, jailed over 2010 crash which killed eight, says client should be present

A number of the relatives of eight people who were killed in a car crash in Inishowen, Co Donegal have complained that the inquest into the deaths will hear from only 14 of 200 witnesses and emergency responders.

A solicitor for the man found guilty of dangerous driving causing the deaths of the eight people also objected on Wednesday to the inquest going ahead with the “edited” version of witness statements being read into the court record.

Ciaran MacLochlainn told Inishowen Coroner’s Court that full depositions must be given to help the families so they can finally have some closure.

He also said the case should not proceed without the evidence of Shaun Kelly, who was jailed for two years and disqualified from driving for 10 years in December 2014 over the crash.

Mr Mac Lochlainn told the inquest, sitting in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel in Buncrana, that Mr Kelly, now 27, had been at every court sitting during the case and was entitled to be at the inquest.

He asked that Mr Kelly be brought to the inquest and allowed to give evidence saying it was “simply unfair” that it went ahead without him present.

However, coroner Dr John Madden refused the application saying that he decided which witnesses would give evidence at the inquest. He said Mr Kelly remembered nothing about the crash on July 10th, 2010, and could not answer any questions if he had no memory of the events.

Dr Madden said he was refusing the application but said he would have the objection noted.

A number of family members of those killed on the night also objected to the inquest going ahead without key witnesses being present.

Mr Eamon Sweeney, father of one of the victims, Ciarán Sweeney said the families needed all the evidence, including the statements from emergency personnel in their entirety.

Dr Madden said the inquest, which is being heard before a jury of four women and three men, is expected to last up to three days.

Those killed in the two car crash were Hugh Friel (66), Urris, Clonmany; Eamon McDaid (22), Ballymagan, Buncrana; Mark McLaughlin (21), Ballinahone, Fahan; Paul Doherty (19), Ardagh, Ballyliffin; Ciarán Sweeney (19), Ballyliffin; PJ McLaughlin (21), Rockstown, Burnfoot; James McEleney (23), Meenaduff, Clonmany, and Damien McLaughlin (21), Umricam, Buncrana.

The inquest continues on Thursday.