Judge sorry over delay in deaths crash case
A JUDGE hearing the case of a man accused of causing the deaths of eight people by dangerous driving has apologised to the families for the delay in the trial going ahead.
The State's case against Shaun Kelly (24), was adjourned again as Judge Keenan Johnson was told the State had not prepared its psychological report for a fitness-to-plea hearing.
Mr Kelly, from Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana, Co Donegal, is accused of causing the deaths during road traffic incidents in Inishowen in July 2010.
Prosecuting counsel Patrica McLaughlin told Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday that the DPP had only been furnished with another report from the defence on Monday afternoon.
She complained that a legal aid certificate to cover the issues had been issued by the court in May 2012 and that the first of these reports had only been given to the State in January, the day before the last hearing.
Mr Kelly's defence counsel Peter Nolan, however, told the court that the latest report, provided by the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum, was an update on a previous report.
He said the prosecution had had "months" to commission its own psychological report.
Ms McLaughlin said the prosecution had been awaiting defence reports and the person sought to do a report for the prosecution was not available.
Judge Keenan Johnson said he was satisfied that there had been "undue delay" by the defence in the case.
"There are eight grieving families and a defendant in the case and their lives have been put on hold until these matters are disposed of," said Judge Johnson.
He said he wanted to apologise to the families and the accused for the delay, adding: "Justice delayed is justice denied."
The judge refused an application for the case to be adjourned until July and listed the matter for hearing again next Tuesday, April 8, to allow the DPP to assign a clinical psychologist to the case "with a view to having this issue (fitness to plea) adjudicated on before the end of these sessions".