Young death driver given nine-year sentence

Flowers at the scene of the incident on Cushendall Road, Ballycastle, in April  2015. Picture Kevin McAuley/McAuley Multimedia
Flowers at the scene of the incident on Cushendall Road, Ballycastle, in April 2015. Picture Kevin McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

A Co Antrim ‘boy racer’ broke down in the dock today (Tuesday) after he was handed down a nine-year sentence for causing the death of his cousin and another man.

Judge Desmond Marrinan told a sobbing Shane Kinney he would spend four and a half years in custody and a further four and and a half year on supervised licence on his release from jail for what he described as “dreadful accident in an almost head on collision” which had left behind a scene of “devastation and carnage”.

Kinney (23), of Drones Road, Armoy, appeared back in the dock of Antrim Crown Court after he was remanded in custody last Friday by the judge to await his sentence after he pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and causing grievous bodily injury to two female passengers.

Judge Marrinan told last Friday’s hearing, following prosecution and defence submissions, that given the complexity of the case, he wanted to consider all he had heard.

Standing beside Shane Kinney in the dock today were his parents Sharon and Kevin Kinney who admitted trying to cover up their son’s role in the crash almost two-and-half-years ago.

Kevin Kinney (52) was jailed for six months with a further six months to be spent on supervised licnece on his release for perverting the course of justice after he admitted removing his son’s damaged Volkswagen Golf and getting parts for it from a breaker’s yard in Armoy and carrying out the work himself.

Wife Sharon, (50), who lives at Drones Road with her husband, had previously pleaded guilty to helping her husband tow away her son’s car and was spared immediate prison for what the judge described as a “very serious offence” and blasted the couple’s conduct after the horror smash as “disgraceful and shameful behaviour”.

She was handed a nine-month sentence suspended for two years, with Judge Marrinan telling her that he was “tempering justice with mercy”.

The three-vehicle crash happened on the Cushandall Road on the outskirts of Ballycastle in the early hours of April 6, 2015.

It resulted in the death of Kinney’s 26-year-old cousin Robin Wilson, against whom he was racing, and a second man, 19-year-old Johnny Black, who had been driving towards the seaside town in his Peugeot car.

A total of seven other passengers were injured, including Clodagh Arbuckle and Denise Dunlop.

At a sentencing hearing today, Judge Marrinan said Kinney and Robin Wilson had been racing for approximatley 0.86 of a mile in what he described as “highly dangerous activity when Robin Wilson’s Bora came into contact with the rear of Shane Kinney’s golf”. The Bora then careered onto the wrong side of the road striking almost head on Johnny Black who was coming the other way.

“The photographs of the aftermath of this accident are truly chilling. They show a scene of utter devastation and carnage. Both of these cars, the Bora and the Peugeot being driven by Johnny Black, were reduced to wreckage.

“It is by the blindness of chance that there were not more seriously injured from this nightmare scenario.

“Shane Kinney you bear a substantial responsility for causing this accident as you engaged in highly dangerous racing, Johnny Black was entirely innocent and bore no resonpisiblity for what occurred. If you had not been racing there would not have been this accident.”

The judge said that statements given to police witnesses as to what Shane Kinney said after the accident were an “unedifying tale of selfishness and highly irresponsible behaviour culminating in him hiding his car in a lay by some distance away.”

He said his dad had helped to tow away his damaged Golf “from its hiding place thus perverting the course of justice”.

One witness told police Shane Kinney said: “Don’t be phone the police....let’s get him out of there.” He told another witness: “I have just left him lying there, like dead.”

Judge Marrinan said he had read a victim impact statement from Johnny Black’s mother Maureen which he described as “heart rendering” and which set out the anguish of her family.

He added: “It is clear that this was an exceptional young man who was devoted to his parents and his sister and his girlfriend. In business he displayed a maturity far beyond his years. The devastation and mental toll it has taken on its family is evident from the statement.

“It is hard to measure that devastation and loss they have felt by those of us lucky never to have suffered such a loss. That sense of less, that sense of devastation cannot be softed by any sentence passed by this court on the defendant. These deaths and the injuries to the others were senseless and needless.”

The judge said Clodagh Arbuckle suffered multiple fractures and a laceration to her liver which resulted her being treated in hospital for several months and a consultant said she had made a “remarkable recovery given that she sustained such life-threatening injuries”.

But he said there had been a darker toll on her life, with Miss Arbuckle having to shelve plans to go to university and the accident had had a “profound effect on her life”.

Denise Dunlop also suffered multiple fractures to her body and face and she said to have been left “deeply affected” by the horror smash with “life changing consequences for her”.

The family of Robin Wilson said in victim impact statements that they described their life now as a “living in a nightmare”.

The judge told the sobbing Shane Kinney that the aggravating factors were that he was involved in racing with Robin Wilson and that that were was more than one fatality.

Another aggravating factor was that Kinney left the scene; he hid his car; he advised another person not to go to the police; and he lied to police.

“He clearly compounded the offence by allowing his parents to move the car and taking advantage of their behaviour had they succeeded. In effect, Shane Kinney, you were content to allow the blame to shift entirely onto your cousin Robin Wilson if your parents plan had been successful. That in itself is a disgraceful state of mind.”

The packed courtroom heard that Kinney later claimed he had drunk three bottles of blue WKD but police were unable to breathalyse him in the immediate aftermath of the crash.

The judge said that he did not accept Kinney’s explanation that he “panicked” after the crash saying he “was determined to get away and he did so and that meant the consumption of alcohol could not be tested”.

Judge Marrinan said that he accepted that a weeping Shane Kinney had now shown “genuine remorse”.

“The determinate sentence faced by this defendant is one of nine years, with four and a half years to be spent in prison and a further four and a half years to be spent on supervised licence on your release.”

Turning to his parents, the judge said they were “both prepared to protect their son at all costs rather than showing concern for the dead or injured and you went ahead believing that your wrong doing could well have covered up your son’s responsibility for his involvement in this crash”.

“If you had had your way, his wrong doing would have been covered up and he would never have had to answer for his crimes. On any showing this was disgraceful and shameful behaviour.”