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Tougher sentences call for partner killers

By Jonathan McCambridge

Published 20/12/2004

The families of domestic murder victims will be at Stormont today to call for stiffer sentences for men who kill their partners.

The families of domestic murder victims will be at Stormont today to call for stiffer sentences for men who kill their partners.

The families of murder victims Angela Snoddy and Nicola Dickson will hand over a petition of more than 50,000 signatures calling for the laws to be toughened.

The petition has been organised by Alliance MLA Sean Neeson and has received cross-party support.

The families want the Secretary of State and the Life Sentence Review Commissioners to take public outrage at domestic murders into account when setting minimum release tariffs.

It follows the public outrage at a 10 year minimum sentence for the murderer of Angela Snoddy in Whiteabbey in October 2002. Conor Gerard Doyle admitted stabbing the mother of two more than 60 times.

Doyle's sentence was later increased to a minimum of 15 years.

Ms Snoddy's mother Helen said: "This is about getting the Government to sit up and take notice that sentences for domestic violence are not providing a sufficient deterrent.

"We have been supported by people from all over Northern Ireland as well as Scotland. Surely the voices of 50,000 should be listened to?"

Also in attendance today were Linda Brown, mother of Nichola Dickson, who was murdered by in Ballycarry in 2003.

Her murderer, David Thomas McCord, was sentenced to life in prison and told he must serve at least 11 years before he could be considered for parole. The sentence was backed by the Attorney General.

Today's petition has received support from politicians, including Nigel Dodds, Alban Maginness, Roy Beggs, Sammy Wilson, George Dawson, Ken Robinson and David Hilditch.

Mr Neeson said: "The huge response to this cross-community campaign shows the high level of concern in the wider community about the leniency of sentences handed down.

"Our hope is that there is a change in the legal system to reflect the serious nature of the crimes committed."

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