Judge apologises to families for delays in Donegal crash case

Tuesday 01 April 2014 12.52
Shaun Kelly is charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight men
Shaun Kelly is charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight men

The case of a Donegal man charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight people has been adjourned again at Letterkenny Circuit Court.

Judge Keenan Johnson was told that the State had not yet had the accused examined in relation to the issue of his fitness to stand trial. 

Shaun Kelly, 24, of Hill Road, Buncrana, is charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight men in a crash near Clonmany in Co Donegal in July 2010.

At his last court appearance at the end of January, the court was told that the prosecution had been given a psychological report on Mr Kelly the previous night and his barrister Peter Nolan raised the issue of his fitness to stand trial.

At today's sitting of the court, prosecuting barrister Patricia McLaughlin told the court that the State had been given a further report on Mr Kelly yesterday, but had not yet been able to have him examined by its own expert as that person was not available. 

Judge Johnson said he was acutely aware of the sensitivities in this case.

He said the fourth anniversary of the crash was coming up in July and it should not be dragging on as it is most unfair to all parties, the accused and the grieving families.

Mr Nolan said the State had done nothing to move this case on. He said that his client was available for examination at any time.

Judge Johnson asked Ms McLaughlin if it would be possible for the State to have its reports before the end of this session, but she said she did not think so.

She also said that the State had been told that there was another report to come from a clinical psychologist at the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum.

Mr Nolan confirmed that Mr Kelly had been referred to Dundrum, but said the State had not done anything, much to the annoyance of his client and the families.

The judge instructed the State to make inquiries and advise the doctor of the urgency of this case. He said he wanted this report before the end of this session if at all possible.

He said he would make no determination in the matter of fitness to stand trial and adjourned it for mention to next Tuesday.

Judge Johnson apologised to the families of those who died in the crash for the delay and said the court would do its best to get the matter to trial as soon as possible.