Saturday 25 October 2014

Driver 'may be unfit for trial' over eight deaths

Greg Harkin

Published 29/01/2014 | 02:30

Shaun Kelly leaving  Letterkenny Circuit Court
Shaun Kelly leaving Letterkenny Circuit Court

PROSECUTORS are to seek a psychiatric report on a man charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight people in the country's worst road crash.

But defence lawyers for Shaun Kelly (24), from Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana, told a hearing at Letterkenny Circuit Court that a new report has questioned his fitness to stand trial. Mr Kelly is accused of causing the deaths of eight people in Inishowen in a car crash on July 11, 2010.

Barrister Patricia McLaughlin, for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told Judge Keenan Johnson yesterday that she was applying for a further adjournment after receiving a psychological report on Mr Kelly on Monday.

"I have to apply for an adjournment as the prosecution has just been furnished in relation to two very serious matters – psychological and engineering reports.

"There is a fitness to stand trial matter which has arisen," said Ms McLaughlin.

The case had been listed for trial next week, on the request of the defence when it was heard at Donegal Town Circuit Court in December.

But Ms McLaughlin said a psychological report dated January 22 this year had only been received on Monday night, hours before yesterday's hearing.

Judge Johnson said it was "somewhat bizarre" that the medical report had only been handed over this month when it was the defence which had asked for the case to be specially fixed for February 4.

Ms McLaughlin said the legal aid certificate in the case had been extended in May 2012 to get a psychiatric report.

DISTRESS

However, defence barrister Peter Nolan said his client had been "constantly medically assessed" since March 2011. A second report had only arrived last week.

"We have to act on the medical evidence we have been given, it is a changing picture. The issue will be one of fitness to stand trial," said Mr Nolan.

Judge Johnson said: "I have to express my disquiet at the late application in this matter.

"It is a source of huge distress to a large number of people."

He adjourned the hearing until April 1.

Irish Independent

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