A young driver who killed his two friends by dangerous driving has told their families that he is ‘sick, sorry and ashamed’ of what he did to them.
Noel Carr appeared before Letterkenny Circuit Court today after pleading guilty to dangerous driving causing the deaths of his friends after a festival in the seaside village of Rathmullan in August 2013.
Shaun Graham, 19, and Matthew Crawford, 21, both from Letterkenny were both killed when the car in which they were passengers crashed on the Rathmullan to Portsalon Road.
The now 25 year old driver of the car, of Glenkeeragh, Newmills, addressed the court to apologise to the families of the dead men who were also present in court.
Mr Carr, who works in a local tyre company, said no words will ever make up for what he has done to the Graham and Crawford families.
He also thanked them for welcoming them into their homes when he went to apologise for his actions after the horrific crash.
“I can’t begin to understand what you are going through. I wanted to tell you how sick, sorry and ashamed I am and if I can do anything I would. I can only tell you from the bottom of my heart that I am deeply sorry,” he said.
The court heard how the victims, the accused and another man, Damian Gallagher were socialising at the Rathmullan Community Festival before they left the area to go to a chip-shop.
Minutes later, Mr Carr’s Honda Integra vehicle went out of control, struck a tree, then hit a bridge and landed upside down on its roof in a local garden at 3.20am.
Both Shaun Graham, 19 and Matthew Crawford, 21, were killed instantly while the other two men were treated in hospital.
A Garda forensic investigation found that the cause of the accident was excessive speed and driver error while it also found that the car was being driven at more than 80kph.
The victim impact statements of the families’ of both deceased men were read out to the court.
The mother of the late Mr Crawford, Mrs Joan Crawford, said her home was now just a house after her son had been taken from her.
She revealed how Matthew’s sister Naomi had been planning to move to Canada but had decided to stay in Ireland to look after her mother and she feels she was robbed of that opportunity.
She said her son had a strong heart and would do all the jobs around the house for her – jobs she can no longer face doing now he is gone.
“He was spoiled but I loved spoiling him as I was a typical Irish mother. He was my protector and I will love him until the day I die,” said Mrs Crawford’s statement.
The Graham family statement said their world had been thorn apart.
They said that Shaun was smart, funny and popular and that they would treasure the 19 years they had with him.
They added that no family should be asked to choose a coffin for their son by an undertaker as they had been.
They added that they will rebuild their lives but nothing will replace the loss of their son and all the events in life he had to live for.
The court also heard how Carr had four previous convictions for careless driving reduced from dangerous driving, assault and two of public order.
Passing sentence, Judge John O’Hagan said that by killing his two friends, Mr Carr had been given his own life sentence.
“He’ll have to live with this for the rest of his life. Every waking moment of his life he’ll have to live with that and that’s a punishment in itself. I know the relatives will say – he’s alive but our two sons are not coming back. That’s difficult to take and I take that into account. Prison for a young man like this is a very very alarming experience. You are totally stripped of your dingily and you beach a number and a person wearing a prison uniform – rubbing shoulders with people woe never thought you would rub shoulders with.”
But he said he had to send Mr Carr to prison and sentenced him to four years but suspended the last year and also disqualified him from driving for ten years.