The death of his brother Hugh in the Inishowen road crash had such a profound impact on the life of Anthony Friel that he revealed he twice planned his own suicide.
When Hugh had not returned to the home they shared in Clonmany by 2.30am on July 12th, 2010, Anthony knew something just wasn’t right.
He had heard about a crash but he never “in a million years” thought his brother would have been killed as a result of it.
Mr Friel said he can barely face life without his brother and has to remind himself every morning that his brother is not coming home.
“I can’t bring myself to work on the farm any more. I can’t look at the farm. I can’t get out of bed knowing he’s not there. I shake and get angry when I drive past spot of accident,” he said.
He says his wife Kathleen now gets the brunt of his anger and his roaring and shouting.
He added that he used to walk a mile a day but now he can’t leave his sitting room and doesn’t even bother listening to the radio or watch television.
He finds it difficult to look after his 14 acre farm and described how he lost a cow recently through not being able to look after it properly.
“My world has fallen apart,” he said.
Mr Friel’s victim impact statement was one of a number which stunned Letterkenny Circuit Court.
Tears flowed as family members revealed how their worlds had fallen apart since the car crash of July 2010.
Eamon Sweeney, the father of Ciaran Sweeney thanked Judge O’Hagan for giving the victims the chance to speak for the first time since the accident.
He said his family’s life had changed forever and no amount of words can describe how much they miss Ciaran
“When you lose a child a void is created that can never be filled,” he said.
He revealed that as soon as he was well enough, Shaun Kelly called to his home to visit them.
He said his son Ciaran willingly got into the car and that it was unfair that Shaun should get all the blame.
“We don’t want another family to b without their brother. It is our wish that Shaun be given a chance in life. He needs all the support and not punishment. Enough lives have been ruined. For him to b set to jail would only make it worse – it’s not what we would want,” said Mr Sweeney.
In her statement read into court Roma McLaughlin, the mother of Mark McLaughlin, said she could not compile a victim impact statement because nothing could explain what it would feel like to lose your child
Damien McLaughlin’s sister Kate described her brother as a quiet, mild, soft-spoken young man with a radiant smile.
She said he was a very kind person who took great pride in his work and contributed on a weekly basis to the running of the family home.
She said her family’s lives had changed forever as a result of the crash and that no words can describe their loss.
“We may have lost you in our lives but you will always be in our prayers,” she added.
Aoife McLaughlin, the sister of PJ McLaughlin, said her late brother was the quickest and smartest in their house
“He was the best at maths and technical drawing and his future was al planned out.
“He was smart, funny, ambitious, reliable and always honest. If there was a problem then he was the man to go to,” she said.
She criticised the defense for what she said was the manner in which the case was continually put back.
“Time and time it was put back and that was heartbreaking,” she said.
She said this is her family’s fifth year not being able to celebrate PJ’s birthday on January 6th saying he loved occasions like birthdays and Christmas.
“It’s just impossible to explain what we are going through,” she added.
The father of Paul Doherty said they have no words to describe what they are feeling and that they are tortured searching for answers.
Felix Doherty said that they felt like the other families who lost a loved one in that they feel Shaun Kelly is already serving a life sentence.
“We do not believe he should go to prison,” he said.
The brother of Eamon McDaid said his family are devastated but said that Shaun Kelly should not be forgotten.
“He loved all the boys. I wouldn’t like Shaun to be prosecuted. We don’t want Shaun or his family suffer any more,” he said.
Robert McEleney said no outcome of yesterday’s (THURS) court case will ease their pain and the loss of their brother and son James.
He revealed how he had lost a brother prior to the crash and that James tried to keep up their spirits after this bereavement.
He added that James had five little nieces, including one which was his godchild, and he doted on them all.
“But we know he is never coming back and it is like a nightmare which we can’t waken from,” he said.
However, he said that James would have no hatred towards the driver of the car.
He said it the family knew it was not for them to decide the sentence but said they did not wish Shaun Kelly to receive a term of imprisonment.