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horror crash ‘I hold no ill feeling to him or his family,’ says woman of driver in crash that claimed the lives of two friends

Rachel Elliott was left in a wheelchair following a high-speed crash


A distraught Rachel Elliott leaving Letterkenny Circuit Court. Photo: NW Newspix

A distraught Rachel Elliott leaving Letterkenny Circuit Court. Photo: NW Newspix

A distraught Rachel Elliott leaving Letterkenny Circuit Court. Photo: NW Newspix

A woman who was left in a wheelchair following a high-speed crash in which two of her friends were killed has said she does not hold any ill feeling to the driver who has to live with a “life sentence” for what he has done.

Joseph Gilroy (23), who was already disqualified from driving in Northern Ireland, reached speeds of 121kph at the impact of the crash in Bundoran, Co Donegal, just after 3am on August 19, 2018.

He along with four other passengers in the car were were flung out of the boot of the speeding car such was the impact of the horrific crash.

Friends Shiva Devine and Conall McAleer, both aged 20, died at the scene while Rachel Elliott was seriously injured.

In her victim impact statement, Ms Elliott said the crash had changed her forever and, while she deals better with everyday situations, she cannot switch off at night and loneliness overcomes her.

She added that all those involved will live with a life sentence describing it as a heartache that will never heal.

But she said she did not hold what happened to her against Gilroy describing him as a "good-natured boy with his whole life ahead of him."

“I just want Joe and his family to know that I hold no ill feeling to him or his family. I don’t blame him in any way for being in a wheelchair.

“Joe has to live with this for the rest of his life and that alone is a life sentence. I wish him all the best for the future along with the rest of the families involved because I cannot imagine what they are going through.”

Shiva Devine's mother Nicola told Donegal Circuit Court her family's lives and that of her daughter's little boy Kyle will never be the same again.

She described her daughter as beautiful, funny and smart. She dreams that she is with Shiva again but wakes up with tears running down her cheeks and said a mother's broken heart never heals.

Conall McAleer's mother, Jacqueline McHugh, gave a heartbreaking victim impact statement about her only son, who was an electrician, but had a passion for farming.

He was not vain but so handsome and if you were a friend of his you had a friend for life, she said.

She added: "I never got to remind him how proud I was of the young man he had become and what a great gift it was to have him as a son."

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Gilroy, fighting back tears, told the court how he wished he could turn back the clocks on all that had happened.

In a statement read out by his barrister, Colm Smyth, he said he wanted to apologise to everyone who was affected by his actions.

He said he asked himself every day why this was part of God's plan and that all he remembers is being "sucked from the back of the car" and landing on his knees beside his friends who were all in the same place on the road.”

Gilroy, of Lisnaskea, Co Fermanagh, pleaded guilty to a range of charges including dangerous driving causing death and serious injury, driving without a license and driving without insurance.

Passing sentence Judge John Aylmer said that despite the "extraordinarily charitable attitude" of the victims and their families, he placed the incident at the higher end of such matters.

He said that before mitigation the charges merited a sentence of seven years in prison.

These factors included the fact that he returned to the scene of the crash having stayed with his friends, his early guilty plea and the obvious remorse shown by the accused.

On the charge of dangerous driving causing the deaths of Shiva Devine and Conall McAleer causing serious injury to Rachel Elliott, he sentenced Gilroy to five years and three months in jail. He also disqualified him from driving from 20 years.

On a separate charge of driving with no insurance he also sentenced Gilroy to four months in prison with the sentence to run concurrently and also banned him for two years to run concurrently also.

The other charges including leaving the scene of an accident and driving without a license were taken into consideration.

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