Courts

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Drink driver jailed after friend dies in crash

Greg Harkin

Published 07/11/2013|10:45

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A DRINK-driver who killed his friend in a crash despite pleas from him to slow down has been jailed.

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Stephen McElwaine (34) died two days after the crash near Stranorlar, Co Donegal, on June 16, 2012.

Barry McFadden (34), from Drumkeen, Co Donegal, admitted causing death by dangerous driving, drink-driving, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance when his white work van left the road in the townland of Ballynaglack.

Gda Sgt Kevin Lynch told Letterkenny Circuit Court that a third man in the van that evening Jason Ward later told officers that McFadden was driving at speed and that Mr McElwaine had pleaded for his to slow down.

Sgt Lynch said all three were friends and had worked plastering that day before McFadden had gone drinking.

He later offered to give Mr Ward a lift home and Mr McElwaine had decided to go along.

None of the three had been wearing seatbelts, he said, and when Gardai arrived at the scene of the 9.40pm crash Mr McElwaine was found trapped under the van.

He was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital but he died there on June 18.

Forensic experts later concluded the van was travelling at 104km/hr on a road with a speed limit of 80km/hr.

They also found the vehicle was unlikely to have taken the bend at speeds of more than 83km/hr without an incident and that one of the tyres on the van was bald.

Members of Mr McElwaine’s family sat in the court as the case was heard but indicated they didn’t want to make a victim impact statement.

“They wish to keep their grief private,” said Patricia McLaughlin, prosecuting.

Defence counsel Brian Walsh said the incident had “blown” two families apart.

His client, he said, had accepted full responsibility for the death of his friend and was deeply remorseful.

Judge John O’Hagan said he accepted that McFadden had “genuine and deep remorse” for the incident.

“He has sentenced himself,” said the judge.

“Every waking day for the rest of his life he is going to have to live with this. He is going to have that sense of guilt and remorse forever.”

The judge jailed McFadden for four years for causing death by dangerous driving, suspending the last year of the sentence.

McFadden was also given two concurrent six month jail terms for drink-driving and driving whilst disqualified and banned him for driving for ten years.

Irish Independent

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