'Craig has gotten off easy... my son has a life sentence'
Supported on crutches, Scott Vineer and his mother left court yesterday feeling that they had been denied justice.
Moments earlier the thug who had viciously beaten Scott and left him for dead had been led handcuffed from the dock to begin a five-year prison sentence.
Ryan Craig will be 25 when he walks out of jail. Scott, who was left-brain damaged by the attack, will need lifelong care.
"I'm heartbroken, I'm disappointed," said Scott's mother Helen-Louise Doney. "I'd been hoping he'd get 15 years. Craig has gotten off lightly for what he put my son through. He tried to kill him, then he left him to die.
"I was delighted and relieved when the judge said last week Craig should expect a significant jail sentence. I expected more. I feel like it is never going to end for us. We don't feel this is justice."
Just over three years ago, in September 2012, Scott was left for dead following a brutal attack. Craig and two others beat, kicked and attempted to strangle Scott, who was 17 at the time.
They left him unconscious in a pool of blood in the grounds of a disused factory. He was discovered more than 24 hours later by a police dog handler. The Lisburn teen was so badly injured, doctors warned he was unlikely to live.
"He has never offered an apology, either through the court or his solicitor," said Mrs Doney. "He doesn't think he has done anything wrong. He almost killed Scott and seems to think it's okay. We really thought he'd get more of a sentence."
Craig had originally been charged with attempted murder, but on the day of his trial he entered a plea to a lesser charge of causing GBH with intent. Scott and his family had urged the PPS to pursue the more serious charge.
"We don't believe Ryan Craig's version of events," Mrs Doney said. "He wanted Scott dead. It was attempted murder.
"If it had been up to us, we would have gone ahead with the attempted murder charge. The PPS took our views. We made it clear we weren't happy, but it was the PPS's decision.
"It was the decision of someone sitting in an office who hadn't met us. I wish I'd had more of a say. Ryan Craig has gotten off easy. Scott has a life sentence."
Two other men involved in the attack remain at large. They were arrested by police after the beating but later released on bail pending further enquiries. No charges were pursued.
"The two of them should do the right thing and admit what they did," said Scott's mother. "They should be big enough to admit it. Ryan Craig acts all big and hard, but he hasn't admitted what he did. He wanted my son dead."