Cross-border driving ban ‘might have saved Shane’, says heartbroken mother

Julie Patton, from Co Donegal, outside Leinster House last month. Her son Shane died in July 2012.

A heartbroken mum says her son could still be alive if a cross-border driving ban scheme had come in earlier.

Julie Patton’s eldest son Shane was just 18 when he was killed by banned driver Eamon Lynch.

Lynch had almost 500 previous convictions when he hit Shane near his home in the Co Donegal village of Drumkeen in July 2012.

Lynch, from Derry, had been drinking and was driving at high speed when his car struck Shane, who had just completed his Leaving Certificate.

So serious were his offences in the North that he was banned from driving there until 2023.

On the night he killed Shane, Lynch had no insurance, tax, or valid NCT on his car.

Julie said her son could still be alive if the man who mowed him down had also been banned from being on the roads of Donegal.

“We will never know but if he was banned on both sides of the border then he might not have been behind the wheel that night,” she said.

“It makes so much sense that people banned in Northern Ireland cannot now just simply slip across the border and drive here. If these new laws do one thing, then hopefully it will be to send out a message on both sides of the border that it is unacceptable to break the law.

“Shane was our first child and he was my pride and joy. Our lives were destroyed when he was taken from us. Our family will never be the same again.”

The legislation means people banned on the other side of the border from where they live will have the prohibition extended to their home jurisdiction.

The law change gives effect to a road safety agreement signed between the UK and Irish governments in 2015. The laws cover drivers banned for a range of driving offences including hit and runs, reckless driving, dangerous driving, and also driving while under the influence of drink or drugs.

Lynch was jailed for 18 months earlier this year for killing the teen while having drink taken and racing at speeds of up to 160kph.

He had no driving licence or insurance when he crashed into Shane’s car in Co Donegal and was previously described as having the biggest criminal record in British and Irish judicial history.

Julie only realised how horrific Lynch’s criminal record was days after she buried her eldest child.

She said: “I just couldn’t believe what I was reading. I had to find out who he was so I googled him. I was trying to make sense of it all. It was then that I discovered all the things that he had done and I also found out that he had been banned from driving until 2023. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Shane had been training to become a mechanic and had dabbled with cars all his life.

“All Shane lived for was cars,” said Julie. “He knew so much about them and would have made a fine mechanic. He was due to start a course after he sat his Leaving Cert. He already knew so much about them. He used to tell his teachers that there was this or that wrong with their car because he knew so much already.

“He was a lovely young fella and he had his whole life ahead of him but it was just taken from him.”

She said he cannot forgive Lynch for being behind the wheel that night.

“He should never have been on that road and travelling at that speed,” she said. “If he had not been on the road then Shane would have been here today.”


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