Family of teen Enda Dolan killed by drunk driver meet with Justice Minister in bid for tougher sentencing
Teenager's parents call for minimum prison term to be increased from 14 to 20 years
The family of a teenager who was killed by a drink-driver in Belfast have urged Justice Minister Claire Sugden to introduce tougher sentences for death by dangerous driving.
There was outrage earlier this year after David Lee Stewart was handed a three-and-a-half year prison term for mowing down and killing Enda Dolan (18).
Stewart, from Gray's Park Avenue in the south of the city, had drugs in system and drove with the teenager on the roof of his van for about 800 yards before he stopped.
His passenger, 21-year-old William Ross Casement, who was drinking with Stewart in the hours leading up to the collision, got out of the van when Mr Dolan's body fell off the roof.
However, after looking at the fatally injured teenager, he got back in the van, which Stewart drove off in before crashing further up the road. The pair were then arrested.
Enda's parents, Peter and Niamh, and sister Dervla (17), yesterday met the Justice Minister and called for the minimum term for defendants convicted of death by dangerous driving to be increased from 14 to 20 years.
Mr Dolan slammed the legal process as "archaic" and said it favoured criminals.
The Killyclogher family lobbied for longer sentences for dangerous driving as well as changes to how victims' families are treated by the legal system.
Earlier this month, Ms Sugden announced a major review of sentencing for Northern Ireland that will look at the legislative framework for certain categories of crime, the setting of tariffs for murder, the arrangements for unduly lenient sentences and the effectiveness of the current sentencing guidelines mechanism, the aim being to enhance public confidence, consistency and transparency.
Mr Dolan described his lengthy meeting with the Justice Minister as "positive".
"She took on board some of the comments we had to make," he said. "We talked about unduly lenient sentences, the definition of 'unduly lenient' and timeframe of 28 days that it takes for a case to be referred to the Court of Appeal. We also talked about referable cases, because the law states that only a small number can be referred to the Court of Appeal. We would like that extended as well. We explained that our own experience of the legal system was that it was drawn-out and quite archaic in its thinking.
"I felt it needed to be looked at with a fresh approach and with a modern slant on the whole process of what happens after a crime is committed, right the way through to the trial and any proposed sentencing.
"It's important a modern viewpoint is taken into consideration and we try to do away with the archaic ceremony associated with the courts and rulings.
"I think generally that it does not favour the victim, as such. It favours the defendant at all times."
Mr Dolan said that the injustice the family endured on the day of Stewart's sentencing and the horrific death Enda suffered had only added to the pain of losing their eldest son.
But he praised the public for inundating them with messages of support.
"We have got letters from many families in similar position," he explained. "Given that it's so important now, I think it's best that we strike and get the law changed.
"It would be great to have it in his name, but our first case is to change the law.
"All we are doing is standing up for something we believe in. It won't bring Enda back, but it will help another family, as there will be another death by dangerous driving.
"We hope we can make it a lengthy sentence and a deterrent for people in the future."
A crash barrier removed from the spot where Mr Dolan was killed was later replaced.