herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Man's guilty plea for horror crash that killed eight

The Co Donegal man charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight people in Inishowen in 2010 has pleaded guilty.

The trial of Shaun Kelly had been due to begin yesterday and last more than one week.

Kelly (25), of Hill Road, Buncrana appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court as did the families of those who died in the crash outside Clonmany.

He initially pleaded not guilty to the charge shortly before 11am.

A jury panel of six men and six woman was then sworn in.

However, when the case was due to commence, Mr Kelly asked to be re-arraigned and changed his plea to guilty.

Judge O'Hagan released Mr Kelly on his own bail until December 9.

He ordered all the appropriate medical and other reports be carried out on Mr Kelly.

Judge O'Hagan then addressed members of the families who had come to court.

He told them: "Something distressing but positive has happened and I hope it gives you some closure on the affair."

He then informed them of Mr Kelly's decision to plead guilty.

The judge asked that one member of each family provide a victim impact statement to be presented in the future.

bingo

The death of seven young men as well as an elderly man returning home from bingo on the night of July 11, 2010 left a huge scar on the landscape of the Inishowen Peninsula, where they all lived.

With this in mind, Judge O'Hagan revealed that the selection of possible jury members for yesterday's trial was made outside of the Inishowen area. Despite this, a number of those selected were excused after it was heard that they knew relatives of those who were killed in the crash.

The fatalities in the two-car crash on he night of the World Cup Final in 2010 were: Hugh Friel (66), of Urris, Clonmany; Eamon 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.

Mr Kelly spent a number of weeks in Letterkenny General Hospital and suffered multiple injuries.

The deaths of the men caused a huge outpouring of grief across Inishowen and the wider community.

The eight funerals took place over a number of days to allow some the families of the deceased to attend each other's burials.

Many of the seven young men who died in Mr Kelly's Volkswagen Passat car had known each other since they were young boys.

hnews@herald.ie

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