Mother says Donegal driver who killed son ‘fooled court’

Man with almost 500 convictions jailed for 18 months after hitting boy’s car while drunk

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

 

The heartbroken mother of a teenage Donegal boy killed in a high-speed crash by a man with almost 500 convictions has said that she will never be able to forgive him.

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

Father-of-three Lynch, who pleaded guilty to careless driving causing Patton’s death, was jailed for 18 months for the killing at Letterkenny Circuit Court in Co Donegal.

Lynch, who has more than 280 traffic offences as well as 50 offences for burglary, was drunk, had no driving licence, no NCT on the car, no tax or insurance at the time.

Fooled the court

Despite Lynch’s declarations that he understood the Patton family’s heartache, Julie Patton last night told The Irish Times that he had fooled the court and she did not believe he was sorry at all.

“I do not accept his apology and neither does my husband Martin or our family.

I know he said sorry but I do not believe him. Look at all the convictions he has. He did not fool me but he fooled the court.

“He had plenty of time and he knew exactly what to say to make it look like he was sorry. Look at all the previous convictions he had – he knew exactly what to say but we will never accept it,” said Ms Patton.

Speaking from her home at Cloghroe, Drumkeen, she said her family had been told before the court hearing that Lynch would plead guilty to the lesser charge of careless driving.

However she said she and her husband had thought that the clock on the 18-month sentence handed down would start this week and not that it would be backdated to the time of the Derry man’s arrest last November.

“We honestly didn’t think it would be backdated and that’s disappointing. He will only serve one Christmas behind bars but my Shane will never see another Christmas,” she said.

Social media

Judge Martin Nolan was sharply criticised on social media for the length of sentence, but it was the only one that Lynch could have received since a guilty plea is usually worth a 25 per cent sentence discount.

If the judge had imposed the maximum two-year term for careless driving causing death that could have been given then Lynch would have a very strong case to take to the Court of Appeal.

The summary offence was introduced in 2011 and was designed to be a less serious version of the dangerous driving causing death charge which carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

However, Susan Gray of the road safety group, Parc said the number of previous convictions built up by Lynch suggested that “something is seriously wrong” with the legal system.

“It’s hard to believe he had that number of previous convictions,” she said. “Whatever sentences or reprimand he got for those offences obviously did not work. They didn’t deter that man at all. The sanctions are not working.”

Saying it was “strange” that Lynch had been charged with careless driving, Gray went on: “The DPP can only go by the evidence and if the evidence isn’t strong enough, she can only direct a particular charge.

“The evidence apparently wasn’t strong enough, and yet they had CCTV footage and knew he was driving at 165kpm. You would think that would be enough,” she said.