Holland family hails sentence review call
Published 29/07/2009 | 01:49
The family of murdered west Belfast shopkeeper Harry Holland have said they are pleased that the sentences of those |involved in his death could be reviewed.
The Attorney General has been asked by the head of the Public Prosecution Service to review the sentences handed down to see if they were unduly lenient.
Mr Holland died after he was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver near his home in September 2007.
Earlier this month, 18-year-old Stephen McKee from Ballymurphy Road was sentenced to 12 years for the murder of the popular 65-year-old.
Patrick Crossan from Willowbank Gardens in west Belfast was sentenced to four years for attempted affray and having |an offensive weapon, and a 17-year-old girl was placed on a probation order for two years.
She had admitted charges of affray and common assault.
Speaking after the trial, the Holland family had criticised both the PPS and the judiciary for the leniency of the sentences handed down.
“Our father’s death has... brought to light some glaring deficiencies within |the justice system — namely the Public Prosecution Service and the judiciary,” his daughter Sarah said.
“Neither of these huge, inefficient organisations are accountable to the people they are supposed to serve.”
However, yesterday Mr Holland’s widow Pauline described the development as “a step forward”.
“At least something positive is happening here. We hope things will change,” she told UTV. “Why's it so different for Northern Ireland when across the water just last week two 16-year-olds were given a minimum of 15 years each.
“There are questions to be answered,” she added.
SDLP West Belfast MLA Alex Attwood said the DPP had taken “the right decision”.
“It will also be the right decision if the Attorney General refers the case back to the Court of Appeal to review the sentences handed down arising from the killing of Harry Holland,” he said.
“The Holland family raised many questions about the conduct of, and outcome of, this case.
“The referral to the Attorney General creates the potential for some serious issues to be revisited and reviewed.”