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We haven't got justice says mum of autistic man beaten and left for dead as PPS rules out challenge to thug’s jail term

By Deborah McAleese

Published 23/12/2015

Attack victim Scott Vineer is hugged by his mother Helen-Louise Doney
Attack victim Scott Vineer is hugged by his mother Helen-Louise Doney
Scott Vineer, who was beaten and left for dead in a vicious 2012 attack, with his mother, Helen-Louise
Lisburn man Ryan Craig

A mother whose autistic son was viciously beaten and left for dead has said she is devastated that prosecutors have refused to challenge his attacker's five-year jail term.

Scott Vineer was left with brain damage and on crutches after he was brutally attacked by Lisburn man Ryan Craig, a serial violent offender.

Last month, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said it would consider appealing the sentence imposed on Craig on the grounds that it may be "unduly lenient".

However, Scott's mother Helen-Louise Doney was yesterday advised by the PPS that there will be no appeal.

"I'm just sitting here crying. Scott is almost in tears. We are just so upset. There has been no justice in this case. My son was left for dead by Ryan Craig and he gets away with a slap on the wrist. This news has ruined our Christmas," said Helen-Louise.

"I am finding it very hard to accept that the man who did this to my son will be back out on the streets in a few years while Scott has to live with the consequences for the rest of his life. We were so upset at the court sentence, but the PPS gave us hope when they told us about a possible appeal. I just can't take this in."

The PPS said last night that the sentence had been carefully considered and no legal basis had been found to refer it as an unduly lenient sentence to the Court of Appeal.

Last month, Craig was sentenced at Craigavon Crown Court to five years behind bars and another five on supervised licence after he pleaded guilty to the 2012 attack.

Scott, who is now 20, went missing 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 news is so heartbreaking. How is five years for what he did to my son fair? This is not justice. How can anyone think this is justice?" asked Helen-Louise.

"I had been hoping that Ryan Craig would get 15 years in jail, but he got five. I had hoped the Court of Appeal would agree with us that this was too lenient, but we have been denied that chance. I just want justice for my son."

A PPS spokeswoman said the director of the PPS had offered to meet with Scott and his family to explain the reasons for the decision.

"The 10-year sentence (five years in jail and five on licence) 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," the spokeswoman said.

She added: "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.

"We understand that this will be disappointing to Mr Vineer and his family. The director of Public Prosecutions has offered to meet with them to explain the reasons for this decision."

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has asked the Attorney General, John Larkin, to look at mounting a challenge against the sentence.

Mr Donaldson said he did not believe justice had been done.

"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," he added.

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