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Thursday 18 September 2014

Driver admits guilt over horror crash that killed eight people

Published 23/07/2014 | 02:30

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Shaun Kelly arriving at Letterkenny Circuit court.  (North West Newspix)
Shaun Kelly arriving at Letterkenny Circuit court. (North West Newspix)
The car in which 7 of the men died
The car in which 7 of the men died
Pensioner Hugh Friel
Pensioner Hugh Friel

A JUDGE told grieving families "something distressing but positive has happened" as a driver admitted his guilt in a road crash that claimed eight lives.

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Shaun Kelly was the sole survivor in the Volkswagen Passat that was carrying seven passengers when it careered into pensioner Hughie Friel's Toyota Corolla outside Clonmany, Co Donegal, four years ago. Mr Friel also died in the collision.

Kelly (25) dramatically changed his plea to guilty of dangerous driving in the crash.

He appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday where a jury had been sworn in and the families of the deceased were present.

Kelly had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge shortly before 11am, with defence barrister Peter Nolan saying the trial could last more than one week. However, when the case was due to start, Kelly asked to be re-arraigned and changed his plea to guilty.

Kelly, of Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana will be sentenced in December.

Judge John 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 told them of Kelly's decision to plead guilty.

The crash – considered the worst in the history of the State in terms of loss of life – happened at Meenaduff, between Buncrana and Clonmany, on July 11, 2010.

It happened shortly after Spain lifted the trophy in the World Cup Final that year.

The men who died in the collision in Clonmany, Co Donegal, on July 11, 2010 were Hugh Friel (66), Eamon McDaid (22), Mark McLaughlin (21), Paul Doherty (19), Ciaran Sweeney (19), PJ McLaughlin (21), James McEleney (23), of Meenaduff, Clonmany and Damien McLaughlin (21).

The judge ordered all the appropriate medical reports be carried out on Kelly. He then asked one member of each family to provide a victim impact statement to be presented in the future.

He also asked each family to nominate one family member to read out that report at a future sitting.

Irish Independent

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