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Man who killed pal in crash refused license after victim's sisters saw him driving while banned

Seosamh McGonagle at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he admitted to the charges of causing death by dangerous driving.  (North West Newspix)

Seosamh McGonagle at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he admitted to the charges of causing death by dangerous driving. (North West Newspix)

John Hegarty who tragically lost his life in a car accident in Donegal.

John Hegarty who tragically lost his life in a car accident in Donegal.

The wrangled car in which 21-year-old John Hegarty lost his life when the car went of the road in Co. Donegal.  (North West Newspix)

The wrangled car in which 21-year-old John Hegarty lost his life when the car went of the road in Co. Donegal. (North West Newspix)

Stephen MaguireSunday World

A motorist who killed his friend has failed to get his license back early after the dead man's sisters claimed they saw him behind the wheel while banned.

Seosamh McGonigle killed pal John Hegarty after speeding away from a pub in Co Donegal in July 2015.

McGonigle was driving at speed before he hit a grass verge, lost control of his Toyota Corolla and then crossed the road and struck a large boulder.

Mr Hegarty was a backseat passenger but died at the scene at Burnfoot.

McGonigle had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and received a sixteen month suspended jail sentence and was banned from driving for six years in May, 2018.

McGonigle, now 26, and from Glackmore in Muff, applied to have his license restored at Letterkenny Circuit Court after serving two thirds of his ban.

John Hegarty who tragically lost his life in a car accident in Donegal.

John Hegarty who tragically lost his life in a car accident in Donegal.

Barrister for McGonigle, Mr Sean Magee, said there had been no objections to the restoration of the license by Gardai.

Mr Magee said his client was not working in landscape construction with a company in Wicklow and his father drove him everywhere.

However, he was looking for his license back early as he was setting up his own landscaping firm and would need to drive.

However, two of Mr Hegarty's sisters, Ms Rachel Hegarty and Ms Michelle Lynch, said they had separately witnessed McGonigle driving different cars in Inishowen on different occasions.

Ms Hegarty told the court that she had witnessed driving twice, once in the summer of 2019 in Burnfoot and on another occasion in January 2020 when she claims he was driving a white van pulling out of a service station, also in Burnfoot.

The wrangled car in which 21-year-old John Hegarty lost his life when the car went of the road in Co. Donegal.  (North West Newspix)

The wrangled car in which 21-year-old John Hegarty lost his life when the car went of the road in Co. Donegal. (North West Newspix)

She said she reported the first matter to Gardai.

Ms Lynch said she saw McGonigle driving on three different occasions, twice in Fahan village in 2019 and also outside a fast-food premises in Buncrana.

She said McGonigle was driving both a red Audi and also a black VW Golf.

Mr Magee said his client did not own either of these makes of car but said his girlfriend did own a black VW Golf.

McGonigle took to the witness stand and said he had not driven since his ban was imposed by the court .

"It wasn't me driving. Definitely not. That's not true," he added.

Making his decision, Judge John Aylmer said that having heard the evidence of the two witnesses he found himself not satisfied on the balance of probability that McGonigle had complied.

He added that he was satisfied that McGonigle has been driving as a matter of probability and refused the application.


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