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Drunk driver Eamon Lynch jailed for killing Donegal teenager

image copyrightPatton family
image captionJulie Patton said she and her son were "let down" by the judicial system

A drunk driver with 483 convictions has been jailed for killing a teenager while travelling at speeds of up to 100mph.

Eamon Lynch had no driving licence or insurance when he crashed into Shane Patton's car in County Donegal in 2012.

Lynch was previously described as having the biggest criminal record in British and Irish judicial history.

On Thursday, a judge sentenced the father-of-three from Londonderry to 18 months in prison.

The victim's mother, Julie Patton, read a victim impact statement to the court in which she described her son as a "happy beautiful boy".


Letterkenny Circuit Court heard how Lynch and his partner were driving along the main Ballbofey to Letterkenny road when the collision happened.

Just after midnight on 12 July, 18-year-old Shane Patton's car emerged from a side road and was struck by Lynch, who was travelling so fast that he could not stop.

The student from Drumkeen was taken to Letterkenny University Hospital but was later pronounced dead.

The incident was caught on the CCTV system of a local service station.

Mr Patton, who was the eldest of three children, had just completed his school exams and was to about to train as a mechanic.

image copyrightNorth West Newspix
image captionLynch was said to be travelling too fast to stop

Speaking on BBC's Evening Extra programme, his mother said the family was heartbroken.

"He was my first born. He lived life to the full. He just wanted everyone to be happy and enjoy life," said Mrs Patton.

"He told me his biggest fear on the roads was drunk drivers, because they have no regard for anyone else."

She added that Mr Patton's grandmother watched him being buried on what should have been a celebration of her 70th birthday.

'Dangerous weapon'

"Family functions are different now - we can never have a family photo again. You can smile for the camera, but Shane's missing."

Describing the sentence as "very lenient", she said she hopes his death might encourage legislators in the Republic of Ireland to impose heavier sentences on drink-driving offenders.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Mrs Patton said: "I thought I would have to teach Shane about the world, but I now have to teach the world about Shane.

"I have to tell people that it is not okay to drink and drive, because it destroys families.

"There is no quick fix and no getting over it. There is no glue to fix all the broken hearts."

Lynch fled to Northern Ireland following the tragedy.

However, last month he was extradited under a European arrest warrant to face trial for Mr Patton's death.

image copyrightGoogle
image captionLynch was convicted at Letterkenny circuit court

He pleaded guilty and a note was read in court in which Lynch said he wanted to express his deep and genuine remorse to the Patton family.

"I cannot express in words how really, really sorry I am for the loss of Shane," he wrote.

"I will never in my lifetime get over this. I know the heartache you are going through, but I did not set out to hurt anyone, let alone hurt Shane."

The judge said that, although drink was a factor, the main issue in the case was Lynch's speed.

He sentenced Lynch to 18 months in prison and a further three months for drink-driving to run at the same time.

Related Topics

  • Londonderry-Derry
  • Republic of Ireland

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