horror accident | 

Driver who killed three people after crashing while making Snapchat videos loses appeal

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Birmingham said: “Clearly this was a case where a substantial custodial sentence was inevitable.”

Keith Lennon, with an address in Forest Park, Dromintee, Co Armagh, had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of three people

Peter Doyle

A killer driver who claimed the lives of three people when he ploughed into the back of another car as he made Snapchat videos while driving at 225kmh has failed in his bid to have his nine-year jail sentence reduced.

Keith Lennon (23) killed mother and son Mary (82) and Kevin (58) Faxton, from Bessbrook, Co Armagh, and Bryan Magill (24) from Newry, Co Down, when the 3-litre Audi he was driving at 105kmh above the speed limit hit the Faxton’s Peugeot 108 on the northbound carriageway of the N1.

Mr Magill had been a passenger in Lennon’s vehicle when the two-car collision occurred at Carrickarnon, Ravensdale, Dundalk, Co Louth, on February 29, 2020.

Lennon later pleaded guilty to three counts of manslaughter at Dundalk Circuit Criminal Court.

Sentencing him in February 2021, Judge Marina Baxter said Lennon had turned his car into a “weapon” on the night in question. She also banned him from driving for 20 years.

Lennon, of Forest Park, Dromintee, Co Armagh, later appealed the severity of his jail sentence.

But in an ex tempore judgement delivered today in the Court of Appeal by Court President Mr Justice George Birmingham, sitting with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, Lennon’s bid to have the time he must serve behind bars reduced was rejected.

Dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Birmingham said: “Clearly this was a case where a substantial custodial sentence was inevitable.”

He said Judge Baxter could have even placed the offending in the upper range for sentencing , “given the damage done and degree of recklessness involved”.

Noting that prior to the fatal collision “a powerful car was driven for long periods at very high speed”, he added that what had "set the case apart" was the Snapchat videos the accused had been making on his phone while driving at excessive speeds.

“It is difficult to find the language to describe how reckless that was,” Mr Justice Birmingham said.

At a previous hearing, Patrick Gageby SC, for Lennon, told the court that there were “not very many cases in the law books concerning motor manslaughter”.

“There wasn’t any real comparator we could lay before the court and in those circumstances we submit there has been an error [in sentencing],” Mr Gageby added.

“This was not a crime of intention,” he continued, adding that the headline sentence of 14 years identified by Judge Baxter had been “too high, even when you consider the egregious circumstances of the case, which resulted in the deaths of three human beings”.

With relatives of the crash victims sitting in the public benches, Mr Gageby said his client wanted to once again apologise for his actions.

Keith Lennon with an address in Forest Park, Dromintee, Co. Armagh, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of three people

“At sentencing, he directed that an apology be made publicly, and he expresses the same sentiment today,” counsel said.

Anne-Marie Lawlor SC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions, said the sentence handed down was fair and within the judge’s discretion.

Ms Lawlor explained to the court that not only had the appellant used his phone to video the speedometer of the Audi while he was driving, he had also sent the recordings to others while still behind the wheel and driving at excessive speeds.

Ms Lawlor said Lennon had made two Snapchat videos in the car before it crashed into the other vehicle, and that both clips lasted a total of 14 seconds.

This was the “pivotal factor in the case”, counsel said.

“The car [Lennon was driving] was high-powered and he was not insured to drive it,” counsel continued.

In passing sentence, Judge Baxter “had carried out a correct and proper assessment of the gravity of the crime and the appellant’s culpability”, Ms Lawlor concluded.

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