Donegal car crash: Shaun Kelly jailed for road deaths

Shaun Kelly Image copyright PA
Image caption Shaun Kelly was the only survivor of the crash

A 25-year-old man who admitted causing the deaths of eight people in a road crash in County Donegal has been jailed for two years.

The crash at Meenaduff, between Buncrana and Clonmany in July 2010, was Ireland's worst ever road incident.

Hugh Friel, 66, and seven men, aged between 19 and 23 who were travelling in another car, were killed.

Shaun Kelly, of Hill Road in Buncrana, has been sentenced to four years in prison, two of those suspended.

He was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.

Image copyright (C) British Broadcasting Corporation
Image caption Seven young men travelling in one car died. From top left: Eamonn McDaid, 22; Ciaran Sweeney, 19; Patrick McLaughlin, 21; Mark McLaughlin, 21; James McEleney, 23; Paul Doherty, 19, and Damien McLaughlin, 21.

Kelly was driving a black Volkswagen Passat with seven passengers when it collided with the car driven by Mr Friel.

The passengers in his car were 21-year-old Mark McLaughlin, from Fahan; Paul Doherty and Ciaran Sweeney who were 19 and from Ballyliffin; Patrick McLaughlin, 21, from Burnfoot; 22-year-old Eamonn McDaid and 21-year-old Damien McLaughlin, both from Buncrana, and James McEleney, 23, from Clonmany.

Kelly was the only survivor of the crash and sustained serious injuries.

In July, he changed his plea to guilty of causing death by dangerous driving as a jury was being sworn in at Letterkenny Circuit Court on Tuesday.

The court heard from witnesses on Thursday that Kelly had been driving in a reckless fashion, having driven off at speed from a pub in Clonmany shortly before the crash. No-one in the car was wearing a seatbelt.

The vehicle struck a silver car before he lost control and went into a spin, colliding with a second oncoming vehicle. All the victims were killed instantly.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The crash was the worst ever road accident in the Republic of Ireland

The court heard victim impact statements from the families of the dead men.

A number of them called for the judge to not to send Kelly to jail.

Paul Doherty's father Felix said: "We feel Shaun is serving his own life sentence, we don't believe a prison sentence is needed."

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Media captionFr John Walsh said the sentencing of Shaun Kelly would bring back memories for those families affected by the crash

The driver's father, Liam Kelly, told them he was "deeply sorry for what happened" and "for the pain they are suffering".

He said that despite their loss, they had shown his family "comfort and support" and demonstrated a "Christian attitude".

A defence lawyer said the case was "a monumental tragedy for all involved".

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