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DPP to appeal sentence for State's worst crash which killed eight men

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THE Director of Public Prosecutions is set to appeal the sentence handed down to a man found guilty of dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight people.

Shaun Kelly (26) from Buncrana, Co Donegal, was given a four-year sentence last month, with the last two years suspended.

The truck driver was also banned from driving for ten years by Judge John O'Hagan sitting at Letterkenny Circuit Court. With remission Kelly will be released early next year.

Kelly had originally pleaded not guilty to causing eight deaths by dangerous driving, changing his plea as his trial was due to begin last July.

Gardai and road safety groups had privately expressed dissatisfaction with the sentence handed down by Judge O'Hagan.

Before sentencing the judge told a packed court room: “It’s at times like this it is difficult to be a judge; the tragedy which unfolded was horrific, beyond description.”

The men died when Kelly crashed his car head-on into a vehicle driven by pensioner Hugh Friel on July 11, 2010. Mr Friel, who was returning home from bingo, died.

Seven men in Kelly's car, all of them friends, also died. They were Eamon McDaid (22), Mark McLaughlin, (21), Paul Doherty (19), Ciaran Sweeney (19), Patrick J McLaughlin (21), James McEleney (23), and Damien McLaughlin (21).

It was the worst car crash in the history of the State

The DPP has refused to comment on individual cases, however families of the eight men who died have been told of the Appeal Court review.

Four of the eight families involved had asked Judge O'Hagan not to jail Kelly; however other families were unhappy.

Online Editors