Buncrana man jailed for fatal collision has sentence doubled

Shaun Kelly, pictured at an earlier court hearing.
Shaun Kelly, pictured at an earlier court hearing.

The Inishowen man whose dangerous driving caused the death of eight men in the peninsula five years ago has had his prison sentence doubled.

The Court of Appeal ruled that Shaun Kelly’s previous sentence of four years with two suspended was unduly lenient and increased that to eight years imprisonment, with the final four suspended.

Kelly (27) of Hill Road, Ballymagan pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death on July 11th 2010 and was initially sentenced by Judge John O’Hagan at Letterkenny Circuit Court almost one year ago. He was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.

The court had earlier heard that had Kelly pleaded not guilty and the matter gone to full trial, a sentencing court would have had to consider close to the maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

This period of disqualification was not extended by the Court of Appeal.

During the appeal hearing in November, Justice Birmingham said the “double discounting” of Kelly’s sentence from seven years to four and then suspending the final two “was not justified and amounts to an error in principle.”

At the re-sentencing on Monday afternoon in Dublin, the Court of Appeal ruled the appropriate sentence was eight years imprisonment with the final year suspended.

The eight men who died in the collision were: Eamonn McDaid, 22; Ciaran Sweeney, 19; Patrick (PJ) McLaughlin, 21; Mark McLaughlin, 21; James McEleney, 23; Paul Doherty, 19, and Damien McLaughlin, 21 and Hughie Friel, 66.