'Lenient' five-year term for thug who left Scott for dead may be reviewed
A five-year jail sentence for a man who viciously battered an autistic teenager is set to be referred to the Court of Appeal, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.
The mother of Scott Vineer said she was heartbroken that Ryan Craig (20), who left her son for dead, would be able walk free from prison when he was still a young man.
But now the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has told this newspaper it is considering if the sentence would be reviewed.
At Craigavon Crown Court yesterday, Judge Patrick Lynch QC told Craig, of Ashmount Gardens Lisburn, that while he will be released from jail "in due course" Scott "will never be released" from the prison of his injuries.
"He will live with the consequences of that fateful evening for the rest of his life," the judge said.
He added that due to the severity of his injuries, Scott will not be able to live alone, seek any form of employment or drive a car.
Craig was sentenced to five years behind bars and another five on supervised licence.
Scott, who is now 20, went missing in 2012 on his way home from college in Lisburn, where Craig was also a student. His mother alerted police at 10.10pm that day. Almost 24 hours later He was discovered by a PSNI dog handler lying unconscious in the grounds of a disused factory near the Lagan towpath. He had been so badly kicked and beaten by Craig and two others, he could only be identified by the bracelets he was wearing.
"This was cold and deliberate," Judge Lynch said. "The whole family have been severely impacted."
He added that Craig, who has convictions for violent assaults, had shown no remorse.
Accepting that the main perpetrators of the attack were two men who have never been charged and that Craig had not struck Scott on the head, Judge Lynch imposed the sentence for GBH with intent.
"I'm heartbroken," said Scott's mother Helen-Louise Doney. "I had been hoping he'd get 15 years. Ryan Craig has gotten off lightly for what he put my son through. He tried to kill him and then he left him to die. I would love someone to review this sentence."
In response to a query from this newspaper, a PPS spokesman said: "We are considering if there is a basis to refer the sentence in this case to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it may be unduly lenient. We have engaged with Mr Vineer and his family at every stage of this case and have offered to meet them to discuss any concerns they may have following sentencing."
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he did not believe justice had been done. "I understand the deep sense of disappointment and devastation that Scott and his family must be feeling," he added. "This has brought much of that trauma back to them, and their sense of injustice will be felt by many.
"Scott was left to die and will have to live with the consequences of this callous attack for the rest of his life. We have to send out a clear message that this type of violence will not be dealt with leniently."
Mr Donaldson also called on the PPS to review a decision not to prosecute two men suspected of involvement in the attack. The men were arrested by police and a file sent to the PPS, but a case was not taken.
"This cannot be case-closed," Mr Donaldson said. "Two other men were involved in this attack. The PPS needs to review this to see if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with cases against the other two perpetrators."