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, which ruled that Shaun Kelly’s previous sentence of four years with two suspended, was unduly lenient, yesterday increased that to eight years imprisonment, with the final four years suspended.
Kelly (27), from Hill Road, Ballymagan, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death on July 11th, 2010. He 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 period of disqualification was not extended by the Court of Appeal yesterday. Giving judgement, Mr Justice Kelly said an increase would crate difficulty for Kelly in taking up position as a responsible member of society following his release.
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.
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.”
On that occastion also, Justice Birmingham said Kelly had displayed remorse and would have to bear a”lifelong burden, but pointed out how”there had been “sustained” dangerous driving and high culpability.
Testimonials from some of the families were handed in to the Court of Appeal on Kelly’s behalf and Justice Birmingham said the court took into account how they spoke of his good character.
He said the attitude of some of the families was exteremely generous but did not determine the court’s sentencing.
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 , Damien McLaughlin, 21 and Hughie Friel, 66.