A restricted and drunk driver who crashed his speeding car into a field near Dungiven last year, killing a 20-year-old female passenger, has been jailed for three years at the crown court in Derry.
Kevin Brolly (23), from Rannyglass in Dungiven, pleaded guilty to causing the death of Claire Kelly by careless driving, drink driving and driving without insurance.
The sentence means he will serve 18 months in custody and 18 months on licence after he’s released from jail. He was also disqualified from driving for five years.
Jailing Brolly, Judge Piers Grant said that by his actions he had deprived a family of a loving daughter, sister and granddaughter.
Judge Grant said at the outset of his sentencing remarks that he wanted to acknowledge the continued suffering and grief of the victim’s family, many of whom were in court. Also present were members of Brolly’s family.
Judge Grant said the Kelly family had suffered an irreplacable loss. Because of Brolly’s actions they had been permanently deprived of seeing their daughter growing into adulthood and he acknowledged that nothing in his sentencing comments could assuage their suffering.
Judge Grant said that at midnight on Sunday December 11 last year Brolly, who was accompanied by his passsenger Claire Kelly and her then boyfriend, was seen by members of a police mobile patrol driving in an erratic manner in the village of Feeny. He carried out a handbrake turn and sped off in the opposite direction towards Claudy. The police followed him but such was the erratic and dangerous nature of his driving combined with his speed, the police had to abandon the chase because they would have exposed themselves to danger.
Brolly was later seen overtaking a car on the Glenshane Road without his headlights on. He lost control of the vehicle on a dangerous bend and crashed into a field overturning the car.
“Claire Kelly was trapped inside the car. She was still breathing but she later died from the catastrophic injuries which she had suffered”, Judge Grant said.
“When the police arrived Brolly told them: ‘I am a stupid bastard sir’. He was later breathalysed and found to be almost 50 percent over the legal limit”, he added.
Judge Grant said Brolly had earlier been seen drinking in two pubs and he panicked when he saw the police mobile patrol. Brolly’s estimated speed when he crashed the car was between 52 and 59 m.p.h.
He said Brolly crashed the car because of the speed at which he was driving and because his driving abilities had been impaired by the alcohol he’d consumed.
Judge Grant said he accepted Brolly’s actions were not pre-meditated and he said he hoped Claire Kelly’s family would gain some comfort from the fact that Brolly had made early and full admissions. He also accepted that Brolly had shown genuine remorse to probation officers.