Donegal crash: Jail term for road death driver

Shaun Kelly is taken into custody after he was sentenced at Letterkenny Circuit Court to four years' imprisonment for causing the deaths of eight people in the most devastating crash in the history of the Irish state.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Shaun Kelly is taken into custody after he was sentenced at Letterkenny Circuit Court to four years' imprisonment for causing the deaths of eight people in the most devastating crash in the history of the Irish state. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

The driver guilty of causing the deaths of eight people in the most devastating crash in the history of the Irish state has been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.

The last two years of Shaun Kelly’s sentence have been suspended and he has also been disqualified from driving for 10 years.

Kelly, 26, was behind the wheel when his car smashed into an oncoming vehicle in Co Donegal in July 2010.

The 66-year-old driver of the other car and seven of Kelly’s friends and relatives who were packed into his Volkswagen Passat were all killed in the collision on the road between Clonmany and Buncrana.

Kelly, from Hill Road, Buncrana, and the other young men, among them two of Kelly’s cousins, had spent the hours before the crash watching the football World Cup final in Clonmany.

Judge John O’Hagan passed sentence in Letterkenny Circuit Court.

Those killed were all from the wider Inishowen area. They were Hugh Friel, 66; Eamon McDaid, 22; Mark McLaughlin, 21; Kelly’s first cousin, Paul Doherty, 19; Ciaran Sweeney, 19; Kelly’s second cousin, Patrick PJ McLaughlin, 21; James McEleney, 23; and Damien McLaughlin, 21.

During the hearing relatives of the victims outlined in harrowing fashion the impact of their loss, with a number urging the judge to spare Kelly from a jail sentence.

Paul Doherty’s father Felix said: “We feel Shaun is serving his own life sentence, we don’t believe a prison sentence is needed.”

Kelly was seriously injured in the crash and suffered a brain injury which, the court heard, continues to impact his mental capacity.