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29/07/2021

Bundoran car fatality registered owner banned from driving for two years 

Bundoran car fatality registered owner banned from driving for two years 

Ballyshannon courthouse

The registered owner and front seat passenger of a car involved in a terrible single vehicle collision in 2018 which resulted in the deaths of two people and a life changing injury to a third person was banned from driving for two years at Ballyshannon District Court on Friday.  

Before the court was Conor Brennan, now 23, of 44 Coolcran Road, Tempo, Co. Fermanagh.

Sgt Oliver Devaney from Donegal Town Garda Station outlined the circumstances of the tragedy which unfolded on August 19, 2018 at Single Street, East End Bundoran at 3.30 am involving the Blue Peugeot 306, owned by the defendant but driven that night by another person, Joseph Gilroy.

The defendant who was a front seat passenger in his own car was later discharged from hospital without any physical injuries. There were a total of six occupants in the car.

Shiva Devine and Conall McAleer died in the crash while a third passenger, Rachel Elliott, suffered life-changing injuries.

A document of insurance for the defendant Mr Brennan, the registered owner, to drive the car was later produced, but it did not cover the driver on the night in question (Mr. Gilroy), who seven weeks earlier had been banned from driving.

In later evidence the court was told by defence solicitor Bernard McCartan of O'Reilly Dolan from Cootehill in Cavan that on the night of the tragedy, the mother of the defendant had sought assurances from Mr Gilroy who drove the car that night, that he was covered to drive her son's car, as Gilroy had said that he had an "open policy" for driving the car. 

This was accepted by Sgt Devaney, who said that it had also been said by the defendant when first interviewed at Sligo Hospital after the collision that he (the defendant) thought that the driver had been insured to drive the car on the night.

It later transpired that the driver, Joseph Gilroy, had been disqualified from driving seven weeks earlier at Enniskillen Court and therefore the driver had no insurance in place to drive the car.

The court was also told that the Certificate of Road Worthiness, the equivalent of the NCT in Northern Ireland, had run out four days before the crash, but that forensic investigators had stated that no mechanical fault had been found that would have contributed to the accident.

Sgt Devaney said he could not say for sure if the defendant would have known whether the driver of his car had been banned from driving, but they would have socialised together.

Mr McCartan, defending solicitor, said that the night had changed from a night out to one which later had terrible tragic consequences for many families and a weight his client "would have to carry for the rest of his life".

He had taken his friend's word on the night that he was covered to drive. Defendant had also taken a drink that night himself and thought "he was doing the right thing" by not driving his own car himself, leaving it to Mr Gilroy.

He was now in full time employment as a trainee steel erector and the loss of a licence would limit his possibilities. The court was told that he had no previous convictions.

"It was incredible that anyone came out of that collision alive,” Judge Sandra Murphy said in her summation. 

The consequences of having no insurance on the car was "devastating" and the imprint that had been left on the families was "unbelievable".

For no insurance covering the driving of the vehicle that night by the person who drove it, and as the registered owner of the vehicle, Mr Brennan, the defendant, who had been the front seat passenger, was fined €250 and banned from driving for two years.

Failing to produce Insurance was taken into consideration and a fine of €150 was imposed for not having a certificate of road worthiness.

Recognisances were fixed in the event of an appeal on the defendant's own bond of €250 and cash of €250.

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