‘Hopefully no other family will lose a child’

Shane pictured with his mother Julie on his 18th birthday in November 2011.
Shane pictured with his mother Julie on his 18th birthday in November 2011.

The mother of a teenager killed by a speeding Derry driver who had been banned from driving in the North, has welcomed new legislation to enforce disqualifications on both sides of the border.

Julie Patton, whose son Shane (18) died following the crash near the family home in Drumkeen, County Donegal on July 12, 2012, said the change in the law was long overdue.

Eamon Lynch, from Derry, who had 483 previous convictions - over 200 of them for traffic offences - had drink taken and was driving at around 165 kilometres per hour.

Shane’s family later learned that Lynch had been banned from driving in the North until 2023.

Lynch, who had an address in Letterkenny, was jailed for 18 months for careless driving causing death in January 2017.

Julie Patton said: “I welcome the new legislation, it’s long overdue. Unfortunately it is too late for us, but for other families it might benefit them and prevent road deaths.”

Mrs. Patton said Shane’s death had been devastating. “It just destroys your family,” she said. “You don’t expect to outlive your children and you don’t expect them to be taken from you in such a cruel way.

“Shane had just finished his Leaving Certificate and he was going on to be a mechanic. From he was a child, cars were always his passion. He started work at 15 and he had saved up for his own car. He passed his driving test, bought his own car and taxed and insured it.

“He didn’t drink and he didn’t like drink driving. One of the things he said to me was, ‘Mammy my biggest fear on the road is a drink driver.’

“He was going out with friends that night, into Letterkenny. He was going to the end of the road and was supposed to be getting a lift from there.

“The driver was driving at 165 kms an hour. He had drink in his system. He shouldn’t have been driving.

“Things can never be the same again. There is always a piece missing. At events, family functions, there is always somebody missing. He was just that bubbly sort of character, he wanted to be the heart and soul of everything.”

Mrs. Patton said they were later shocked to learn that a driving ban in the North did not automatically apply south of the border.

“They have been trying for this since 2007. For us it is tragic it didn’t happen sooner but, hopefully, no other family will lose a child in such a way.”