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Mum of autistic teen Scott Vineer relieved her son's attacker is finally jailed - 'I am so happy... we got justice today'

By Deborah McAleese

Published 21/11/2015

Scott and mum Helen-Louise at home
Scott and mum Helen-Louise at home
Scott Vineer arrives at court yesterday
Attacker Ryan Craig outside court yesterday

The mother of Scott Vineer, the autistic teenager who was viciously kicked, beaten and left for dead, has spoken of her relief that her son's attacker has finally been jailed.

Helen-Louise Doney said that after three long years Scott, who has been left with brain damage and on crutches, can finally feel safe to leave the house.

His attacker, 20-year-old Ryan Craig, of Ashmount Gardens in Lisburn, was jailed at Craigavon Crown Court yesterday and warned he faced a lengthy prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to the brutal 2012 assault which left his victim in a coma with severe brain and head injuries.

"I am so happy. He is finally behind bars and Scott feels safe again," Mrs Doney said outside court. "When the judge sets the tariff I hope it is for around 15 years to reflect what Ryan Craig put my son through. He has shown no remorse for what he did. He left my son for dead. We finally have justice."

The court heard that Mr Vineer, who is now 20, went missing on September 6, 2012 on his way home from college in Lisburn where Craig was also a student.

His mother alerted police at 10.10pm that evening. While the PSNI carried out a major search operation for the teenager, Craig denied to officers that he had any knowledge of Mr Vineer's whereabouts.

At 9pm the following evening Scott was discovered by a PSNI dog handler, lying unconscious in the grounds of a disused furniture showroom close to the Lagan towpath in Lisburn.

His injuries were so severe he could only be identified by the bracelets he was wearing.

The court was told yesterday that Craig was one of three people to attack Mr Vineer, who was 17 at the time. They led their victim to the disused furniture showroom where they beat him and kicked him in the head as he lay on the ground. Craig then grabbed a plank of wood and began to strike the defenceless teen with it. As Mr Vineer lay unconscious Craig went through his pockets and threw away his mobile phone. "He removed Scott Vineer's chance of contact with the outside world," a prosecution lawyer told the court.

He added that Mr Vineer was left with "extremely serious life changing injuries. He was in hospital for several months, at times only able to breath through tubes and unable to eat.

"His mother recounts going to the hospital and being told her son was not expected to survive. And further being told that if he did survive the likelihood would be that he would be in a vegetative state. Thankfully Scott Vineer has managed to recover beyond anything that was thought at the time."

The court heard that Craig has a history of violence. He first appeared before the courts at the age of 14 for common assault. Since then he has been convicted of a number of violent offences, including making and throwing petrol bombs and assaulting police. A defence barrister said that Craig was "remorseful" over the attack on Mr Vineer.

However, the judge said: "He is no stranger to the use of violence ... his remorse isn't evident in any shape or form." He adjourned sentencing until next week but ordered that Craig be taken into custody. As he was taken handcuffed from the dock the judge warned him: "Anticipate that a lengthy prison sentence will follow."

To date no charges have been brought against the other two men involved in the attack.

"The icing on the cake would be if evidence could be secured to convict those two as well. But today, I am just happy that Ryan Craig is behind bars," said Mrs Doney.

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