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Careless driving Wife of suspect in credit union robbery during which garda was murdered avoids jail over crash death

The court heard that the crime McCann pleaded guilty to, namely careless driving causing death, was “at the higher end of the scale”.

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Colleen McCann with husband James Flynn

Colleen McCann with husband James Flynn

Colleen McCann with husband James Flynn

The wife of a suspect in the robbery during which Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was murdered has been given a suspended sentence for careless driving causing the death of her friend in Co Monaghan almost ten years ago. 

Colleen McCann (26), with addresses at Drumacon, Castleblayney in Co Monaghan and Newry, Co Down, was deported from the US in 2017 to face charges in relation to the crash that killed 17-year-old Ciaran McKenna in July 2012.

McCann is married to James Flynn, who was arrested in London in July and is set to be extradited over the 2014 Lordship Credit Union robbery when Det Garda Donohoe was murdered.

Passing sentence at Monaghan Circuit Court, Judge John Aylmer said McCann’s actions in moving to the United States where she avoided prosecution for nine years was “cowardly”.

Judge Aylmer said the delay in the case also meant that a coroner’s inquest was put on hold “undoubtedly adding additional distress” to Mr McKenna’s grieving family.

The court heard that the crime McCann pleaded guilty to, namely careless driving causing death, was “at the higher end of the scale”.

Therefore, on its own it merited a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment before mitigation.

However, the mitigating factors included the fact that McCann had no previous convictions, that she had pleaded guilty and that she was herself a child at the age of 17 when the offence occurred.

The judge also noted that she had a “good work history” and referred to several references handed into the court in favour of her character.

Accepting McCann's circumstances, he deemed that a sentence of 12 months, fully suspended, was appropriate.

McCann, who was supported in court by her father, was handed down the 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to enter a bond of €100 and to keep the peace, be of good behaviour for a year.

In her victim impact statement, the victim's mother Mary said her family had been broken by the loss of Ciaran.

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A minor footballer with Crossmaglen Rangers, he was killed in the collision, which happened at Maghernakill, Castleblayney in the early hours of July 30, 2012.

"Having lost a son, we can fully understand the real heartache of loss. Something is missing that will never be replaced and will never be forgotten," Ms McKenna said.

Ciaran McKenna would have turned 27 at the end of this month, the court heard.

The court heard how Colleen McCann was driving the car on the night of the crash although she said she had no recollection of it.

In a letter read to the court last week, McCann, a mother-of-one and expecting a second, apologised and said she wished she could tell the McKenna family what happened.

In an interview, she told gardai she had no recollection of the night.

She insisted that she was “100 per cent certain” of that and would swear on anyone’s grave.

The court heard McCann who has a three-year-old child, has subsequently “settled down” and married.

McCann, who has no previous convictions, is also pregnant, the court heard, and her due date is in March of next year.

Due to legal issues arising in a separate case, the decision of whether a driving disqualification can be ordered and for how long, has been adjourned until next year.

Entering her bond to keep the peace, the court heard McCann has given an agreement not to drive until the legal issues are resolved.

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