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Man and woman plead guilty to causing death of Karl Heaney on A1 in 2018

A grieving mum who campaigned for an upgrade to the A1 carriageway after her son was tragically killed was in court today (Monday) as two drivers admitted causing his death.

Soldier Donald Hughes (35) and Dublin woman 33-year-old Shelagh McMahon were due to go on trial at Newry Crown Court today but a second count was added to the indictment and defence QC’s Frank O’Donoghue and Greg Berry asked for that to be put to their clients.

With the parents and family of Karl Heaney sitting in the public gallery Hughes, from Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn and McMahon, from Ardcollum Avenue, confessed to causing the death of the 27-year-old by driving carelessly on the A1 dual carriageway Drumneth on May 23, 2018.

Following their admissions, prosecuting QC Samuel Magee asked Judge Paul Ramsey QC to “leave on the books” the more serious charge of causing death by dangerous driving.

Mr Heaney (27), from Warrenpoint, was travelling home from training with Newry Mitchels GAC when he died in a two-vehicle collision between Banbridge and Dromore at around 11.30pm.

He was driving a silver Ford Fusion car which was in a collision with a black Kia Ceed, driven by Hughes, close to the junction of the Halfway Road while McMahon was behind the wheel of a Kia Rio.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Mr Heaney’s mother Monica spearheaded a campaign and petition for the road to be upgraded.

In court today, Judge Ramsey freed Hughes and McMahon on bail until April 22 and adjourned passing sentence for victim impact and pre-sentence probation reports.

Although he also disqualified both defendants from driving, he stayed the imposition of that order for 24 hours to allow time for the drivers to get themselves home.

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