The driver of a car that caused a crash in which eight people died in Inishowen in 2010, has been jailed for dangerous driving causing their deaths.
Shaun Kelly, 26, of Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana, pleaded guilty to the charge of causing the eight deaths on the road between Clonmany and Buncrana on July 11, 2010.
Passing sentence Judge John O’Hagan said this “terrible, terrible tragedy” had affected the whole community and those who had to attend the scene on the night.
Several family members of the victims asked that Kelly would not be jailed for his role in the crash.
Kelly was the sole survivor in a collision that happened on the night of the World Cup final.
The young men packed into Kelly’s Volkswagon Passat car and Kelly drove off at high speed from Clonmany at approximately 10.30pm. They were in “high spirits” but it was pointed out at Letterkenny Circuit Court that Kelly had not consumed any alcohol.
None of those in the car were wearing seat belts and eyewitnesses described seeing the car drive off at speed with the tyres spinning. One witness described being overtaken dangerously by the car moments before they came across the scene of the accident.
Kelly’s car collided with an oncoming vehicle before going out of control. It then struck the car being driven by Mr Hugh Friel, 66, who was travelling in the opposite direction, coming home from bingo.
The passengers in Kelly’s car were Eamonn McDaid, 22, of Ballymagan, Buncrana; Mark McLaughlin, 21, of Ballinahone, Fahan; Paul Doherty, 19, of Ardagh, Ballyliffin; Ciaran Sweeney 19, of Ballyliffin; PJ McLaughlin, 21, of Rockstown, Burnfoot; James McEleney, 23, of Meenaduff, Clonmany and Damien McLaughlin, 21, of Umricam, Buncrana.
Hugh Friel was from Urris, Clonmany.
All the victims died at the scene.
Kelly was also badly injured and is now living with an acquired brain injury, the court heard.
Following the day long sentencing hearing, Judge O’Hagan said he had to mark the offence with a custodial sentence.
He jailed Kelly for four years and suspended the last two years. He also imposed a ten year driving disqualification.
For a full report see Monday’s Donegal People’s Press/Donegal Democrat