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Man who caused Ireland's worst car crash in which 8 died has sentence doubled

Published 07/12/2015

Shaun Kelly, who caused the deaths of eight people in a car crash, had his sentence doubled
Shaun Kelly, who caused the deaths of eight people in a car crash, had his sentence doubled

A man convicted of Ireland's worst car crash has had his sentence doubled.

Shaun Kelly, 26, of Hill Road, Ballymagan, Buncrana in Co Donegal has been handed an eight year jail term by the Court of Appeal.

The final four years of the new sentence will be suspended.

Kelly pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Criminal Court to d angerous driving causing the deaths of eight men on a road between Clonmany and Buncrana on July 11 2010.

But last month, a three-judge Court of Appeal found his original sentence of four years, with two years suspended, was too lenient.

During the hearing in November, a barrister for the Director of Public Prosecutions argued that the sentence did not reflect the gravity of Kelly's culpability and the harm caused.

Kelly's lawyer said the sentencing judge had taken all the relevant factors into account, including his culpability, remorse, brain injury, and the nature of the "monumental tragedy" wreaked on the community.

In a 22-page judgment, the Court of Appeal did not agree with the sentencing judge that Kelly had entered an "early plea", having only pleaded guilty after a jury was sworn in for a trial.

Furthermore, the sentencing judge delivered a jail term on the basis that Kelly would be facing a seven-year sentence if he had contested the case, the appeal ruling stated.

Judge Birmingham said a seven-year sentence would only have been a minimum "and a sentence somewhat in excess of that would be more appropriate in that situation".

The judge said the court took into account Kelly's remorse, that he will have to bear a life-long burden and that a number of victims' families had shown "extraordinary generosity" in asking that he not be sent to jail.

But he noted other families had remained silent and pointed out Kelly's previous conviction for dangerous driving.

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