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High-profile Donegal crash case adjourned again

Letterkenny Courthouse.

Letterkenny Courthouse.

THE case of a Buncrana man charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight people has been adjourned again at Letterkenny Circuit Court.
Judge Keenan Johnson was told at yesterday’s opening day of the circuit court that Shaun Kelly, 24, of Hill Road, had not yet been examined by an expert for the State in relation to the issue of the accused’s fitness to stand trial.

Kelly is charged with dangerous driving causing the deaths of eight men in a crash near Clonmany 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, Mr Peter Nolan BL, raised the issue of his fitness to stand trial.

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Prosecuting barrister, Ms Patricia McLaughlin BL, said the State had been given a further report on Mr Kelly on Monday, 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 noting that the fourth anniversary of the crash was coming up in July.

“The case should not be dragging on as it is most unfair to all parties, the accused and the grieving families,” the judge said.
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.
Ms McLaughlin 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’.
Judge Johnson said the State had sufficient information for someone to conduct the examination and the case should not be prolonged any more than necessary.
The judge said he was determined the case was set for trial by the end of the current sitting and asked the State to make enquiries into the availability of the expert.

Judge Johnson said he would make no determination in the case until the state contacted its expert and adjourned the case to next Tuesday’s sitting of the Letterkenny Circuit Court in the hope that the case can be heard during the current sitting.

The judge said all he could do was apologise for the delay to all parties involved.

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