Saturday 20 January 2018

Man accused of causing deaths of eight people through dangerous driving requests psychological assessment

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

Greg Harkin

A judge hearing the case of a man accused of causing the deaths of eight people by dangerous driving has given the DPP two days to find a psychologist to assess him.

The State’s case against Shaun Kelly, (24), was adjourned again today when Judge Keenan Johnson was told the State has still not prepared its own 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 today that the DPP had been unable to make contact with two experts based at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin despite both phoning them and writing to them.

Ms McLaughlin said the psychologist originally identified by the State to carry out an assessment of Mr Kelly was no longer providing reports for court cases.

“The ‘fitness to be tried’ issue will take more than a day and into a second day. The accused will be entitled to know all the evidence and we are very very aware of the urgency in this matter,” she told Judge Keenan Johnson.

She said the State had only received psychological reports from the defence in the case and she wished to apologise to the court for the delays in finding a prosecution expert.

The case had been adjourned a week ago to allow the DPP to identify their own expert.

Judge Johnson said: “That is just not good enough; it just beggars belief that it has been dragging on – we are no further on than we were last week.”

He gave the DPP until this Thursday to instruct a psychologist in the case.

“I want details of that appointment and that has to be within the next week to 10 days,” said the judge.

Relatives of the eight men who died in the crash listened intently as the case was heard this morning.

The men who died in the crash in Clonmany, Co Donegal, on July 11th, 2010 were Hugh Friel (66), Urris, Clonmany, Eamon McDaid (22)of Ballymagan, Buncrana; Mark McLaughlin, (21) of Ballinahone, Fahan; Paul Doherty (19), of Ardagh, Ballyliffin; Ciaran Sweeney (19), of Ballyliffin; PJ McLaughlin (21), of Rockstown, Burnfoot; James McEleney (23), of Meenaduff, Clonmany and Damien McLaughlin (21), of Umricam, Buncrana.

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