Prosecutors have told the Court of Appeal that the four-year sentence imposed on a 26-year-old man whose dangerous driving caused the deaths of eight people was too lenient.
Shaun Kelly, of Hill Rd, Ballymagan, Buncrana, Co Donegal, had pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Criminal Court to dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight men on a road between Clonmany and Buncrana on July 11, 2010.
He was sentenced to four years jail, with the final two suspended, by Judge John O’Hagan last December.
He was also disqualified from driving for 10 years.
The DPP moved to appeal Kelly’s sentence yesterdayon grounds that it was “unduly lenient”.
Counsel for the DPP, Úna Ní Raifeartaigh, told the court it was the worst fatal collision and the worst case of dangerous driving in the history of the State. She said the sentence did not reflect the gravity of Kelly’s culpability and the harm caused.
She said there was a prolonged period of “deliberate” dangerous driving.
Ms Ní Raifeartaigh said a number of people had been drinking in a bar on the night in question although Kelly had not been drinking.
They were in high spirits having watched a World Cup game and seven passengers, some of whom were “roaring and shouting”, got into Kelly’s car. Any objective observer could have forseen the risks, she said. The car was overloaded with seven people not wearing seatbelts.
Two road users described seeing Kelly approach them from behind at high speed.
Having overtaken them, they recalled flashing their lights at Kelly and saying to themselves ‘if you don’t slow down you’re going to kill someone’.
Counsel for Kelly, Eoin McGonigal, said Kelly’s sentence should not be interfered with.
He said Judge O’Hagan clearly had regard to the aggravating and mitigating factors.
Mr McGonigal said the tragedy in this case was that rehabilitation would not start until the appeal and the inquest were dealt with.
Even then, whatever period of time Kelly spends in jail, his homecoming would reawaken the case for everybody.
Mr Justice George Birminghamsaid the court would reserve judgment and give it as soon as possible.
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