A Judge has listened to the pleas of a tragic family who asked him not to jail the man who killed their son in a horrific car crash in Co Donegal.

Martin Strain was just 19 when he was killed by his best friend Evan Quinn.

Quinn, who had only hours earlier been told to fix his defective car by Gardai, lost control of the vehicle after it slid on a grass verge in August 2015.

His car crashed through a bus shelter and hit a lamp-post and the impact was so severe that the engine was thrown out of the car.

Quinn, now aged 22, survived but Mr Strain was killed instantly and his girlfriend Kayleigh Fullerton was seriously injured following the crash at Tooban.

Quinn, who returned from Australia for the case, pleaded guilty to a charge of careless driving causing death.

Letterkenny Circuit Court had heard that around 4.30am near Tooban, Quinn failed to take a bend, mounted a grass verge and lost control of the car.

A Garda forensic expert revealed how the car was sent into a clockwise spin and hit a kerb, a bus shelter, a lamp-post and finally a tree before coming to a stop.

The court was told the driver was a ‘novice’ who had only been behind the wheel a number of months with a full license.

Letterkenny Courthouse (North West Newspix)

However, the tragic family of the late Mr Strain, from Burnfoot, pleaded with Judge John Aylmer not to jail the driver.

Mr Strain’s father Hugh admitted that they had been left with a void in their lives but he added that his “happy and hardworking” son would not have wanted Evan Quinn going to jail.

He said “We have forgiven Evan Quinn. What happened that night was a tragedy. But we are thankful that we have not been put through a trial.

“We want to let the world and the court know what a happy go lucky and hard-working son he was. Our hopes and dreams have been taken from us that we will never fulfil.

“He was a loving son and brother to Stephen. He was a friend to many, much more than we realised. He was loved by everyone.”

Passing sentence Judge Aylmer said it was unclear from the forensic examination if Quinn was exceeding the speed limit or that a bald tyre was a contributory factor in the accident.

He said this was a “momentary lapse with devastating consequences” and said there were no other aggravating circumstances.

He added that he placed the offence in the mid-range of such offences and one which merited a sentence of one year in prison.

He reduced this to nine months because of a range of factors including the fact that he had no previous convictions and also the psychological effect killing his best friend had had on him.

Judge Aylmer said he had particular regard for the “sympathetic and charitable” statement from the Strain family imploring him not to impose a custodial sentence.

He said the probation services had said Quinn was at low risk of reoffending and also that he was suffering from “survivor’s syndrome” and was deeply remorseful for the accident which killed his friend.

He then suspended the nine months sentence for a period of 12 months and ordered Quinn to sign a bond to keep the peace for that period.

On another charge of assault in which Quinn stood on a man’s head, Judge Aylmer said he accepted that he was influenced by medication while drinking and ordered him to do 240 hours community service in lieu of 18 months in prison.

He also disqualified Quinn, from Meenagorey, Buncrana, from driving for four years.


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