Belfast Telegraph

Driver who killed eight people is jailed for two years

By Greg Harkin

Relatives of eight men killed in the worst car crash in the history of the Republic burst into tears as the man who killed them was jailed for two years.

Shaun Kelly (26) from Hill Road, Buncrana, Co Donegal, stared at the floor of Letterkenny Circuit Court as he was handcuffed and taken away to serve his sentence.

He had pleaded guilty in July to causing the deaths after more than two years denying it.

The men who died in the crash on the road between Clonmany and Buncrana on July 11, 2010 were Hugh Friel (66) from Clonmany; Eamon McDaid (22) of Ballymagan, Buncrana; Mark McLaughlin, (21) of Ballinahone, Fahan; Paul Doherty (19), of Ardagh, Ballyliffin; Ciaran Sweeney (19), of Ballyliffin; Patrick J McLaughlin (21), of Roxstown, Burnfoot; James McEleney (23), of Meenaduff, Clonmany and Damien McLaughlin (21), of Umricam, Buncrana. The hearing was told that Kelly had a previous conviction for dangerous driving after an incident where he almost rammed a Garda car in 2007.

The tragic circumstances of the case were heightened by loud sobs at the back of the court when the court was told Mark McLaughlin's father John had taken his own life on July 11 last year, the third anniversary of the crash.

The court heard that Kelly and his seven friends had been at the High Stool Bar in Clonmany on the night of the crash to watch Spain play the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final.

Just outside Clonmany, eyewitness James Gallagher told how Kelly's car passed him swerving and at speed and commented: "If you don't slow down you are going to kill someone."

Kelly's father Liam said his son was incapable of addressing the court but wanted to apologise to all the families.

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