Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Mum’s fury at killer’s jail term

A distraught mother has spoken of her anger after her son’s killer was told he will serve just 18 months in jail.

Leslie Parkes, who was just 20, died nine days after being punched in the head outside a Cookstown nightclub.

Yesterday his killer, Anthony James Bey, was jailed for three years — just 18 months of which will be spent in custody — after pleading guilty to Mr Parkes’ manslaughter.

Speaking afterwards Leslie’s devastated mother Heather and sister Samantha described their outrage at the sentence handed down by Omagh Crown Court judge Geoffrey Miller.

“We don’t feel that justice has been done,” said Heather. Bey had just turned 20 when he punched Mr Parkes once in the face near the Clubland nightclub at Molesworth Street, Cookstown, in the early hours of September 20, 2009.

Mr Parkes, from Knockmoyle in the town, suffered a fractured skull. He was taken to hospital but died later.

Jailing Bey, from Fortglen in Cookstown, Judge Miller said the case underlined how fragile life is and how terrible the consequences can be of a seemingly minor act of aggression.

He sentenced him to three years, split between 18 months in custody which must be served in full, followed by a further 18 months supervised on licence.

But Mrs Parkes hit out at the sentence, saying she was “totally shocked”.

“We're in shock and disbelief that he only got 18 months for manslaughter,” she said.

She said her family has been through “20 months of pure hell” since Leslie’s death.

“There are no words for a parent who has lost a child, and that’s how awful this loss is,” she added. “It’s a journey which never ends.”

Samantha said she was angered by his killer’s lack of remorse, adding: “He’s not even sorry.”

Paying tribute to her brother, she said: “He was the life and soul of everything.

“I can't even explain it, this is never going to go away.”

Earlier they had listened as defence QC Arthur Harvey described her son's killer as hard-working and remorseful, adding that Bey accepted he can never repair the damage and anxiety he has caused to the Parkes family.

Mr Harvey said Bey was a young man to whom violence was quite alien, adding there was nothing to suggest he intended to cause serious harm to anyone.

Judge Miller said it was a single punch manslaughter case in which Bey had “struck out at Mr Parkes for no good or justifiable reason”.

However, it was unclear if the blow was “even of great or significant force”.

“This only goes to underline just how fragile life is and how terrible can be the consequences of a single and seemingly minor act of aggression,” Mr Miller added.

The judge described the devastating impact Mr Parkes’ death has had on his family.

“Nothing this court can say or do can in any way restore the life of Leslie Parkes and his family will have to live with their loss for the rest of their lives, and the defendant must live with the responsibility that by his actions another young man has been deprived of his life.”

Background

Leslie Parkes was killed after being punched outside Clubland nightclub in Cookstown in September 2009.

The town is known for its thriving nightlife but this has resulted in tragedy in recent years. Two other young men, Conor McCusker (31), from Ballinderry, and Finbarr McVey (21), from Cookstown, died in separate incidents after being assaulted outside nightclubs in the town.

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