Trial of Inishowen man accused of causing deaths of eight men in Clonmany crash is adjourned

Editorial image.
Editorial image.

THE trial of an Inishowen man charged with dangerous driving causing the death of eight men in Clonmany has been adjourned to next Tuesday.

At Letterkenny Circuit Court this morning, Judge Keenan Johnson apologised to the families of the victims, as well as the accused Shaun Kelly, for the delay in his trial.

Kelly, (24) of Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana was due to face trial at the current sitting of the circuit court.

He is charged with dangerous driving causing the death of eight people on July 11, 2010 at Meenaduff, between Buncrana and Clonmany.

In January, the case was adjourned after it emerged he may not be fit to stand trial.

Today, prosecuting barrister Ms Patricia McLaughlin told Judge Johnston they still weren’t in a position to proceed.

She said the expert they wished to examine Kelly’s fitness to plead was not available. She added the prosecution received further reports from the defence last night.

Judge Johnson said he was “acutely conscious” of the sensitivities of the case.

Noting how the fourth anniversary of the collision is this July, the Judge said it wasn’t “fair on the families of the victims or the accused that this should drag on.”

He added he was “not impressed” that the defence only furnished reports the night before.

Defence barrister Mr Peter Nolan said it was “disingenuous” for the prosecution to “point the finger at the defence.”

He said Kelly was available for examination “at any time” by the state.

Mr Nolan accused the state of “doing nothing” to move the case on.

He said: “Is Ms McLaughlin suggesting she sits on her hands, when she has experts available to her and delay this case again?”

Judge Johnson said he was “determined” the case would receive a trial date.

He told the prosecution to stress the “urgency” of the matter to the expert asked to examine Kelly.

Judge Johnson said he wanted the report by the end of the current court session.

He said he was “conscious” of the eight families, as well as that of the accused.

Judge Johnson adjourned the matter until next Tuesday for mention. He said he hoped the fitness to be tried issue could be adjudicated upon on that date.

He added: “All I can do is apologise to the families of the victims and the accused. I have enormous sympathies for all parties involved.”