Man jailed for Donegal crash that killed eight

Inishowen incident was single biggest loss of life from a car crash in State’s history

 

A Co Donegal man has been jailed for two years and disqualified from driving for 10 years for causing a crash that killed eight people in Inishowen.

Shaun Kelly (26) had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight people on July 11th, 2010.

Seven of those killed were passengers in the car he was driving between Clonmany and Buncrana at Glasmullen.

The other man killed in the crash was a 66-year-old pensioner who was driving in the opposite direction on his way home from a night at bingo.

The incident was the single biggest loss of life from a car crash in the history of the State.

Eight deaths

Hugh Friel

Judge John O’Hagan sentenced Kelly to four years in prison with the last two years suspended, and disqualified him from driving for 10 years.

“The consequences in the community are insurmountable . . . It is a terrible, terrible tragedy,” said the judge.

The case had been adjourned from last week for sentencing at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

The court heard how Kelly and his friends were socialising at the High Stool Bar in Clonmany on the evening of the World Cup final in 2010. At about 10.30pm the men got into Kelly’s car and drove towards Buncrana in what was described as an erratic manner.

Eyewitnesses said Kelly was screeching the tyres of his Volkswagen Passat car and there was the smell of burning rubber.

Approximately 5.5 kilometres along the road from Clonmany to Buncrana, one witness said he noticed a car in his rearview mirror driving very fast.

The car then overtook the witness before further increasing speed.

Another witness recalled seeing a black car coming around a bend and coming onto the wrong side of the road.She said she heard a loud bang, her airbag had been set off and that there was smoke everywhere.

Kelly’s car then spun out of control, fishtailed across the road and struck Mr Friel, who was driving in the other direction.

Crashed in ditch

Garda Sgt Carol Doherty, of Buncrana Garda Station, said emergency services performed CPR on Mr Friel but he was declared dead at the scene a short time later.

All seven of the passengers in Kelly’s car were pronounced dead at the scene, while Kelly was transferred to Letterkenny General Hospital.

Garda Doherty also told the court that Kelly had two previous convictions, one for dangerous driving before the crash and another for driving without a registration plate on his truck after the crash.

Brain injury

Dr Hogan said Kelly has expressed remorse and does accept responsibility for what happened on the night.

All eight families who suffered a loss of life were invited to read out a victim impact statement to the court.

Of the eight victim impact statements, four families appealed to Judge O’Hagan not to send Kelly to jail.