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Mum's terror as one of autistic son's attackers spotted near Lirburn home

By Deborah McAleese

Published 03/02/2016

Scott Vineer and his mum Helen-Louise
Scott Vineer and his mum Helen-Louise
Ryan Craig

A mother whose autistic son was viciously beaten and left for dead, has said he has been left terrified after one of his attackers was spotted outside their house.

Helen-Louise Doney said she had considered moving her family from their Lisburn home after one of the men who left her son Scott Vineer brain damaged and on crutches was seen walking brazenly along their street.

She may now be forced to take out injunctions against the man and his brother who are two key suspects in the case. A third man, Ryan Craig, is currently serving a five-year jail term for the 2012 attack.

Scott, who was 17 at the time, was on his way home from college when Craig and two brothers beat, kicked and attempted to strangle him.

According to a confession from Craig which was provided to a judge during a Crown Court hearing, they left Scott unconscious in a pool of blood in the grounds of a disused factory and threw his phone away so he was unable to call for help. He was discovered more than 24 hours later by a police dog handler. The teen was so badly injured doctors warned he was unlikely to live.

While the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) took a case against Craig, they decided not to pursue the other two suspects.

"We have always been worried about bumping into one of them. Scott was in a bad way when we found out one of them had been in our street. I considered moving home but now we have calmed down a bit I think why should we? This is our home," said Mrs Doney.

"It's not fair that they are walking free after what they did. I am looking at getting an injunction against them to keep them away from us.

"I hate to think what might have happened had Scott been out on his own and bumped into him. We just feel so betrayed and let down by the courts and the justice system."

The family intends to meet with the PPS to request a review into the decision not to pursue the two suspects for the attack.

They are also seeking answers from the PPS over a decision not to challenge the "lenient" five-year jail term for Craig.

"There are still two men out there who tried to kill my son. The police and the PPS know who they are. I will be asking the PPS to review their decision not to go ahead with a case against them. These cowards shouldn't be allowed to get away with what they did," she said.

"The sentence Ryan Craig got for what he did was a joke. Scott has been given a life sentence yet Craig will be free in a few years. Scott will be completely paranoid when Craig gets out. But he can't even relax with him behind bars because those brothers are still walking about." In November Craig was sentenced to five years behind bars and another five on supervised licence for the attack.

Sentencing Judge Patrick Lynch QC described the attack as "cold and deliberate". He added that Craig, of Ashmount Gardens Lisburn, had shown no remorse.

Following sentencing the PPS said it would consider appealing the sentence on the grounds that it may be "unduly lenient". However a decision was later taken not to pursue the challenge.

"The sentence handed down to Ryan Craig has been carefully considered and no legal basis has been found to refer it as an unduly lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal," a spokeswoman for the PPS explained.

"An unduly lenient sentence is one that falls outside the range of sentence that a judge, taking into consideration all relevant factors and having regard to sentencing guidance, could reasonably consider appropriate.

"In other words, the sentence must not just be lenient, but must be unduly lenient."

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