Belfast Telegraph

Death drivers should feel the full force of law, priest tells mourners

The funeral cortege of Seamus Conlon
The funeral cortege of Seamus Conlon
Grieving family members
Seamus Conlon
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

A priest at the funeral of a west Belfast man who died after being hit by a stolen car has hit out at the scourge of death drivers.

Seamus Conlon (70) was fatally injured in the crash outside the City Cemetery on the Whiterock Road after attending the funeral of a neighbour last Saturday.

Hundreds gathered at Corpus Christi Church yesterday to pay their respects to the married father of three.

Parish priest Fr Patrick McCafferty said that the loss to Mr Conlon's family was "immense" and added that "death drivers" should face the full force of the law.

He also praised the family of Lisa Gow - a Belfast mother of two who was also killed by the driver of a stolen vehicle last April - for the support they showed to Mr Conlon's wife Kay and their children Geraldine, Seamus and Thomas.

Fr McCafferty said: "For many years our communities have been plagued by death caused by cars being driven recklessly and dangerously along our roads and streets.

"Often it's by people under the influence of alcohol and other substances that impair the ability to drive.

"The consequences on numerous occasions have been lethal."

He added: "Just over a year ago the Gow family lost a beloved daughter and mother, who was also killed by the driver of a stolen car.

"Her family were also left heartbroken and left to cope without Lisa, they came to Kay's home to see her and sympathise with her.

"The word 'joyriding' is often associated with these activities that result in such grief.

"Once again, we must ask where is the joy in such behaviour? Joy is extinguished by car crime, joy is destroyed by those criminals who steal cars and drive them without regard for the lives of men, women and children."

Fr McCafferty said there was further heartbreak for the families of those who committed the crime.

He appealed for tougher sentences, saying that too often those responsible know "they will not see a just fitting punishment for their offences".

"Every possible effort therefore must be made at prevention and apprehending the thieves and properly using the full force of the law to deter such activities," he added.

"It belongs to the law, not mob rule to deal with these criminals. That's what they are, what we should start calling them."

Mr Conlon's burial took place in the City Cemetery, close to the spot where he was killed last Saturday.

Two other men were also seriously injured after being hit by the Vauxhall Vectra.

On Monday, Michael Patrick Loughran was charged in Belfast Magistrates Court with causing the pensioner's death by dangerous driving.

The 32-year-old, from the Glenties Drive area in the city, also faces two counts of causing grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving, driving while unfit due to drink or drugs, aggravated vehicle taking causing injury or death and having no insurance.

Loughran has not admitted any of the charges and the case is due before court again on Monday, September 2.

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