Dad of drunk driver victim Enda Dolan hails bid to increase 'lenient' sentence
The father of student Enda Dolan, who died after being knocked down by a drunk driver, has welcomed an appeal to increase the sentence of his son's killer.
David Lee Stewart was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and three-and-a-half years on licence for knocking down and killing the 18-year-old on the Malone Road in Belfast in October 2014.
Stewart (31) from Grays Park Avenue in Belfast, had been drinking and taking drugs before the fatal collision. Many were horrified to learn that he had driven his van for 800 metres with the teenager on his roof before stopping.
His passenger, William Ross Casement (21), had been drinking with Stewart and got out of the vehicle following the accident before returning to the passenger seat and continuing on.
Yesterday Northern Ireland's chief prosecutor Barra McGrory sought leave to appeal the sentence to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it was "unduly lenient".
Peter Dolan said it was a positive step, calling it "a start in the process".
"I suppose at this stage we welcome that. It's something we've been asking about and asked the PPS to take a look at the case and see if they could do that so we're pretty much in favour of that," he said.
Mr Dolan has also appealed to MLAs at Stormont to increase the minimum sentence for drunk drivers who kill someone.
"The current maximum sentence is 14 years for a case like ours," he said.
"I believe that needs to be looked at and increased because I don't think it reflects the crime and certainly is no deterrent for anybody out there. I think at least 20 years would be better."
Mr Dolan said he expects the current appeal to move forward within six to eight weeks.
When Stewart was sentenced in April, Mr Dolan slammed Northern Ireland's legal system "a disgrace". He said: "We have been left with a life sentence and so many parents have stood in our shoes and many more will in the future unless something is done to deter individuals from driving under the influence of drink and drugs."
West Tyrone DUP MLA Tom Buchanan said: "The decision to appeal the sentence handed down is obviously one for the PPS and this should obviously be an independent decision, free from political influence."
"However, it is vital that we all as a society take a stand against those who believe they can drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car. As a legislator I believe that we should look towards increasing the sentence available for such crimes.
A spokesman for the Ulster Unionist Party said: "The family of Enda Dolan have our deepest sympathy following the tragic loss of their son.
"In our Assembly election manifesto we stated that we would 'be tireless in demanding Northern Ireland is served by a criminal justice system that is fair, which delivers sentences that act both as punishment and deterrent' and we also said that we would 'encourage the courts to hand out tougher sentences and to ensure that the punishment fits the crime'."