Sunday 21 January 2018

Sentence imposed on man whose dangerous driving caused death of eight people 'unduly lenient', DPP tells Court of Appeal

Ruaidhrí Giblin

Prosecutors have told the Court of Appeal that the four year sentence imposed on a man whose dangerous driving caused the death of eight people was too lenient.

Shaun Kelly (26), of Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana, Co Donegal, had pleaded guilty at Letterkenney Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing the death of eight men on a road between Clonmany and Buncrana on July 11 2010.

He was sentenced to four years imprisonment with the final two suspended by Judge John O'Hagan in December last. He was also disqualified from driving for ten years.

The Director of Public Prosecutions are seeking a review of Kelly's sentence on grounds that it was “unduly lenient”.

Counsel for DPP, Úna Ní Raifeartaigh SC, told the Court of Appeal this morning that it was the worst fatal collision and the worst case of dangerous driving in the history of the State.

Ms Ní Raifeartaigh said the sentence of four years imprisonment with two suspended did not reflect the gravity of Kelly's culpability and the harm that was actually caused.

She said there was a prolonged period of “deliberate” dangerous driving and it was emanently forseeable that there would be multiple fatalities if you drive the way Kelly had on that night.

Ms Ní Raifeartaigh said a number of people had been drinking in a bar on the night in question but Kelly had not been drinking.

They were in high spirits having watched a World Cup game and seven passengers got into Kelly's car.

Any objective observer could have forseen the risks, Ms Ní Raifeartaigh said. The car was overloaded with seven passengers not wearing seatbelts. The seatbelts had beenbuckled down and they were sitting on top of them.

Witnesses said that when the car took off there was screeching of tyres, smoke emanating from the tyres, crossing of the white line and driving at speed.

The first witness remembered saying to herself at the time that Kelly was driving at a very high speed.

Two other witnesses, the Gallaghers, described seeing Kelly approach them from behind at high speed. He was 'right up my arse', they said. Having overtaken them, the Gallaghers recalled flashing their lights at Kelly and thinking to themselves 'if you don't slow down you're going to kill someone'.

More to come...

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