Monday 24 October 2016

Unlawful killing verdict returned in deaths of 8 young men in road crash

Shaun Kelly, who was driving
Shaun Kelly, who was driving

A jury has returned a verdict of unlawful killing in the case of eight men who died in Ireland's worst-ever road incident.

After three days of often fractious proceedings in which the man responsible had denied causing the crash, despite pleading guilty, the jury reached its verdict late yesterday evening.

The men died in the crash on the night of the World Cup final on July 11, 2010, on the main R238 Buncrana to Clonmany road at Dumfries.

Shaun Kelly, (27), from Hill Road in Buncrana, is serving an eight-year sentence after pleading guilty to causing the deaths by dangerous driving of seven friends and a pensioner.

His original four-year sentence, handed down by at Letterkenny Circuit Court, was doubled by the Court of Appeal.

The jury said each of the men died from injuries caused by a road traffic collision and were "unlawfully killed consistent with dangerous driving".

Coroner Dr John Madden told the families that if they had been looking for all the answers on the deaths of their loved ones, the Coroner's Court was never going to be the place for that to happen.


"This was the most difficult and stressful inquest I have ever been involved in. It is the worst thing any parent can do - to bury their own child," said Dr Madden.

"All of these people were taken too soon. It shocked Ireland and it shocked the world.

"This will not solve anything for the families - but I hope there is one less hurdle in the rest of your lives."

Garda Inspector David Murphy said he knew some of the victims, and passed his sympathies to the families and his thanks to the emergency services. He said gardai acted with compassion throughout the investigation.

"It is the worst crash in the history of the State, and I sincerely hope it is the worst crash forever," he said.

The inquest was beset by arguments over the admission of a separate engineer's report commissioned by Kelly for his criminal case.

A garda expert told the court last night at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel that a woman whose car was struck by Kelly's VW Passat was 90cm on her own side of the road on impact.

Those who died were 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.

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