Three teenagers convicted in connection with the murder of greengrocer Harry Holland are due to be sentenced today.
Stephen McKee (18), Patrick Crossan (18) and a 17-year-old girl who cannot be named for legal reasons are expected to appear at Laganside Courthouse this afternoon.
Popular father-of-four Harry died after being stabbed in the head with a screwdriver while trying to stop a gang stealing his delivery van in September 2007. Neighbours found him gravely injured on the street outside his home at Norfolk Drive. He died shortly after being admitted to hospital.
Last month McKee from Ballymurphy Road pleaded guilty to the murder, which sparked widespread revulsion and for the first time led to calls for more police on the streets of west Belfast. Eighteen-year-old Crossan from Willowbank Gardens, also in west Belfast, admitted causing an affray and possession of an offensive weapon, namely a knife.
The 17-year-old girl, who cannot be named because of her age, pleaded guilty to affray and another charge of common assault. However, she entered a plea of not guilty to a count of occasioning actual bodily harm.
Prosecution counsel Ciaran Murphy QC had said there had been “insufficient evidence” to pursue murder charges against Crossan and the girl, but recommended the charge be left on the court books.
The Holland family launched a stinging attack on the Public Prosecution Service after murder charges against Crossan and the girl were dropped. The family, who have produced more than 50,000 community safety booklets and held a rally at Belfast City Hall calling for tougher sentences, accused the PPS of engaging in “legal trade-offs”.
They said the sentencing is their “last hope” for justice.
Mr Holland’s devastated daughter Sarah said: “Our last hope is that the judge will carry out his duty and deliver appropriate sentences, not just for our daddy but to |make west Belfast a safer place to live and work for all of its people.”