Sunday 25 September 2016

You killed your pals stone dead, judge tells driver in horror crash

Greg Harkin

Published 29/04/2016 | 02:30

Noel Carr at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday. Photo: North West Newspix
Noel Carr at Letterkenny Circuit Court yesterday. Photo: North West Newspix

A man who killed two friends in an horrific car crash has been jailed for three years.

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Noel Carr, (25), from Newmills, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, was due to go on trial for dangerous driving causing death before a jury at Letterkenny Circuit Court in January but changed his plea.

His sentencing hearing heard how Matthew Crawford (21) and Shaun Graham (19), both from Letterkenny, died when Carr crashed his 2001-registered vehicle into a wall outside Rathmullan at 3.20am on August 3, 2013. A third passenger, 23-year-old Damian Gallagher, was seriously injured.

In heartbreaking victim impact statements read to the court, the parents of the dead men spoke of how their lives had been turned upside down by their deaths.

Matthew Crawford's mother Joan said she was haunted by the image of seeing her dead son in hospital. She said she had been waiting for answers.

"I understood the court process but found it hard to deal with. I felt like an extra in the whole process. I am serving a sentence because of my son's death," she said.

"My house doesn't feel like a home any more without Matthew here, now it's just a house.

"He was spoilt and I loved spoiling him. I am a typical Irish mother."

Shaun's parents Michael and Caitriona Graham had their statement read by prosecuting counsel Patricia McLaughlin.

The couple, who both work at Letterkenny hospital, went there to identify their son.

"The scene will be etched in our memories for the rest of our lives," they said. "We remember being asked by the undertaker to pick a coffin for Shaun. No parent should ever be asked to choose a coffin for their child."

Carr took to the witness box to apologise to the families.

"I will never forgive myself for what I did," he said.

He said he had visited the families after the crash but couldn't find the words to apologise.

"I want to tell you how sick, sorry and ashamed I am. I only wish I had the answers. I am deeply sorry," said Carr.

The court heard Carr had previous convictions including careless driving in Ballyshannon in November 2011. In sentencing, the judge said he had to refer to the sentence handed down by the Court of Appeal to Shaun Kelly who killed eight people in the 2010 Clonmany crash.

"The Court of Appeal lays the gauntlet down to me," said the judge.

Judge O'Hagan had sentenced Kelly to four years in prison with the final two years suspended. The Court of Appeal had doubled the sentence.

The judge said Carr had "killed two of his pals stone dead". He said that was punishment in itself.

He sentenced Carr to four years in prison, but suspended the final year. He also banned Carr from driving for 10 years.

Irish Independent

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