‘Overdue’ change too late for Shane

Shane Patton pictured with his mother Julie on his 18th birthday in November 2011.
Shane Patton pictured with his mother Julie on his 18th birthday in November 2011.

The mother of a Donegal teenager killed by a speeding driver from Londonderry, who had been banned from driving in Northern Ireland at the time of the crash, has welcomed new legislation to enforce disqualifications on both sides of the border.

Julie Patton, whose son Shane (18) died following the crash near the family home in Drumkeen, County Donegal on July 12, 2012, said the change in the law was long overdue.

The driver of the vehicle was Eamon Lynch from Londonderry, who had 483 convictions - over 200 of them for traffic offences - had drink taken and was driving at around 165 kilometres per hour.

Shane’s family later learned that Lynch had been banned from driving in Northern Ireland until 2023.

Lynch, who had an address in Letterkenny, was eventually jailed for 18 months for careless driving causing death in January 2017.

Mrs Patton commented: “It’s long overdue. Unfortunately it comes too late for us, but for other families it might benefit them and prevent road deaths.”

Mrs Patton said Shane’s death had been devastating. “It just destroys your family,” she said. “You don’t expect to out-live your children; you don’t expect them to be taken from you in such a cruel way.

“Shane had just finished his Leaving Certificate Examinations and he was going on to be a mechanic. From he was a child, cars were always his passion. He started work at 15 and he had saved up to buy his own car. He passed his driving test, he bought his own car and taxed and insured it.

“He didn’t drink and he always feared drink-driving. One of the things he said to me was, ‘Mammy my biggest fear on the road would be drunk driver.’ “He was going out with friends that night, into Letterkenny. He was going to the end of the road and was supposed to be getting a lift from there. The driver was driving at 165 kms an hour. He had drink in his system and he shouldn’t have been driving.

“Things have never been the same again. There is always a piece missing. At events, family functions, there is always somebody missing. He was just that bubbly sort of character, he wanted to be the heart and soul of everything,”

Shane’s mother said her family was shocked to learn that a driving ban in Northern Ireland did not automatically apply south of the border.

“They have been trying to sort this out since 2007. For us it is tragic it didn’t happen sooner but, hopefully, no other family will lose a child in such a way.”