Belfast Telegraph

Still to be sentenced two years on... violent thug who knifed nurse in the head

By Adrian Rutherford

The family of a young nurse who was viciously stabbed in the head have said they feel let down by the justice system.

Tracy Monteith spent three weeks fighting for her life in hospital after being attacked with a knife at her home near Omagh.

Two years later the culprit is still awaiting punishment for the savage attack.

On Friday the sentencing of Stephen McCrea was adjourned for the second time in a week, and will now not be held until September at the earliest.

The Monteith family claim they have been badly treated, with little regard for Tracy’s rights as a victim.

They have also slammed the PSNI investigation into the case. Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Tracy’s sister Laura said the criminal justice system has got its priorities wrong.

“What has been apparent from the start of this ordeal has been that the rights of Stephen McCrea have been taken into consideration throughout, and very little given to Tracy’s rights as a victim,” she said.

Tracy (24) was attacked as she answered the door of her new home at Cappagh Villas near Omagh in August 2010.

She was stabbed in the head by McCrea (32), of Riverview Park in Omagh.

He later appeared in court charged with attempted murder.

However, at a court appearance last month McCrea pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of unlawful and malicious wounding.

He was due to be sentenced on June 29, but the case was relisted for last Friday.

But it has since been put back until after the summer recess.

Laura said the family are angry that they have been left waiting for justice.

“When and if Stephen McCrea is sentenced in September it will be 25 months since he stabbed my sister in an unprovoked attack on her own doorstep,” she added.

“For anyone who knows the benefits of staying on remand at the taxpayers’ expense, you can do the maths yourself.

“I can’t help but think our criminal justice system has got its priorities the wrong way around.

“Placing the offender, who has now pleaded guilty, at the centre of the picture is not only unfair and immoral, but surely calls for a rethink in legislation.”

Laura also criticised the PSNI probe into the stabbing of her sister.

“The standard of service we have received from the PSNI has been nothing short of a disgrace,” she claimed.

“It’s a very different picture from the ‘I won’t rest until he’s locked up for a long time’ spiel we got when Tracy was in hospital. More fool us for believing it.”

She said that attempts to ascertain the reasons for this latest adjournment required a phone call to the courthouse and the PPS office in Omagh.

“Tracy couldn’t find one police officer in Omagh police station who would tell her the same thing,” she added.

Laura said the family will be lodging a complaint with the Police Ombudsman.

“I am sure anyone who has ever been made a victim of crime through no fault of their own can appreciate what Tracy, her fiancé Brian and the rest of the family have been going through for the past 23 months,” she added.

A PSNI spokesman said: “Anyone who has a complaint against police is asked to contact the office of the Police Ombudsman.”

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