Monday 24 October 2016

Car that collided with death driver's vehicle had broken headlight

Greg Harkin

Published 26/02/2016 | 02:30

Kelly’s car after the crash. Margaret McLaughlin
Kelly’s car after the crash. Margaret McLaughlin
Ann McGilloway arriving at the inquest in Buncrana yesterday. Photo: North West Newspix
Shaun Kelly at a previous hearing. Photo: NorthWestNewsPix

A woman whose car collided with one of the vehicles involved in a crash which left eight people dead has admitted there were defects on her own car at the time.

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Anne McGilloway (62), from Clonmany, Co Donegal, said, however, she was unaware at the time of the crash that a tyre on her Megane was worn, her passenger side headlight was broken, or that the NCT was two weeks out of date.

She was giving evidence on the second day of inquests into the deaths of the eight people who died in Ireland's worst road crash at Dumfries, Inishowen, on the night of July 11, 2010.

Shaun Kelly (27) is serving eight years in prison for causing the deaths by dangerous driving.

There were heated exchanges at the second day of the hearing yesterday at the Inishowen Gateway Hotel. Lawyers for Kelly, gardaí and Ms McGilloway clashed over the remit of the coroner's court.

Ciaran MacLochlainn, solicitor for Kelly, told the hearing that his client accepted he had caused the deaths - but had not accepted he had caused the accident.

The claim was severely criticised by a barrister for the Garda Commissioner Stephen Byrne.

It was also criticised by solicitor Frank Dorrian, representing 62-year-old Ms McGilloway, whose car was also in a collision with Kelly's VW Passat on the night.

Kelly's vehicle was involved in two collisions, firstly with Ms McGilloway's car and a short time later with 66-year-old Hugh Friel's car causing his death and the deaths of seven of Kelly's friends.

They 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.

Coroner Dr John Madden had to interject on numerous occasions to remind Kelly's solicitor Mr MacLochlainn that an inquest cannot apportion blame for any death.

The solicitor said his client accepted causing the deaths of the eight men, but denied causing the accident. He alleged that Ms McGilloway's car was inches on the wrong side of the road when the first collision occurred.

However, Mr Dorrian told the inquest: "The idea that Shaun Kelly admits in the criminal court to causing the deaths and then at the same time denies responsibility defies every logical reasoning.

"He is trying to diffuse blame elsewhere and this is not the forum for doing that. Drip-feeding suggestions is not in the interests of the grieving families here. It is grossly offensive."

Ms McGilloway accepted that she had two defects on her car but said she did not know this at the time.

She also insisted that Kelly's car crossed to her side of the road and struck her Renault Megane.

It was suggested by Mr MacLochlainn and some relatives that she could not have seen Kelly attempting to steer his car back over to his side of the road because it was dark and one of her car lights wasn't working.

She said she did see this before hearing a loud bang. Airbags activated and smoke filled the car, she said.

Gda Brendan Roche told the hearing that at the time of the crash it was still daylight and he was able to clearly see other vehicles when driving to the scene.

The coroner will decide today if a Garda forensic report can be admitted in evidence.

Irish Independent

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