Judge astounded trial of man charged with Clonmany road deaths still hasn’t begun

Editorial image.
Editorial image.

A judge has said it “beggars belief” the trial of a Buncrana man charged with dangerous driving causing the death of eight men is yet to proceed.

Shaun Kelly, Hill Road, Buncrana appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court this morning, after his case was adjourned last week.

Prosecuting barrister Ms Patricia McLaughlin told Circuit Court Judge Keenan Johnson they still weren’t in a position to proceed.

She said it was with “some trepidation” she addressed him, as last week, he had requested an expert be made available to assess Kelly’s fitness to plead.

Ms McLaughlin said they had made “strenuous efforts” and identified two experts. However, despite attempting to make contact with them via telephone and letter, neither had responded. She said she was aware of the “urgency” of the case and added a report is still awaited from the defence.

Ms McLaughlin said when the case does proceed, it could take up to two days for the fitness to be tried issue to be heard in court.

Defence barrister Mr Peter Nolan said he thought that “between last week and today, some expert to the state would be available.”

“There isn’t even an appointment,” he said.

Judge Johnson said the delay wasn’t “good enough.”

“It beggars belief this is going on this long,” he said.

He added:”We are absolutely no further on in this case than we were last week.”

He said the “minimum” he would have expected was an appointment date for Kelly’s assessment.

He adjourned the matter until this Thursday and said he wants an expert to be appointed by then. He said he also wants an appointment with that expert to be in the next week to ten days.

Kelly is charged with dangerous driving causing death at Meenaduff, Clonmany on July 11th, 2010.