Belfast Telegraph

Family of drink drive victim slam 'disgusting' delay in tougher sentences

Enda Dolan
Enda Dolan

The family of a Northern Ireland teenager killed by a drink-driver has slammed repeated delays in the introduction of tougher sentences for those convicted of death by dangerous driving.

Peter Dolan's son Enda was knocked down and killed by drunk driver David Stewart during his first term studying architecture at Queen’s University.

Stewart had taken drugs and up to 13 drinks - including six pints of beer and four Jagerbombs - before getting behind the wheel in October 2014.

He was originally sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and the same amount of time on licence, but this was increased on appeal to four-and-a-half years behind bars and the same period on licence.

Since his 18-year-old son’s death, Mr Dolan has campaigned for the introduction of tougher sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving.

In June 2016 then Justice Minister Claire Sugden announced a sentencing review and part of the review was set to examine death by dangerous driving.

Mr Dolan met with the Department of Justice on two occasions since the collapse of Stormont and said that despite being promised progress nothing has materialised.

"We're in May 2019 and we haven't heard a word and nothing has happened," Mr Dolan told BBC's Nolan Show.

"In the same time people have been convicted of death by dangerous driving and there's families standing there, outside court houses week in, week out, just absolutely devastated that they've lost somebody and the sentencing they (the perpetrator) have been handed.

"It's very hard to pick yourself up whenever that happens. It's not just me, there's other families out there that feel let down and it's time somebody stood up to shout and that's what we're trying to do.

Peter Dolan
Peter Dolan

"I think if it happened to them (politicians) or somebody close to them they wouldn't be long doing something about it."

Mr Dolan said that his son was a "very bright young man" who was gifted in many ways.

"He was mowed down by a van, it carried him on the bonnet for half a mile, the guy's fired him off on the side of the road, left him like a bag of rubbish," he said.

"Enda was killed on impact and from there our lives have changed.

"It was a knock on the door from police at 4:20am in the morning and it's something you don't want to experience, a very traumatic time and just your worst nightmare.

"There's a range of emotions, sad, angry, just couldn't understand why it would happen to him, why it would happen to us, but it's just one of these things."

He described the way the driver and passenger treated his son as "disgusting".

"Whenever the driver gets out of prison within six months he can drive again, so I think there's something not right with the whole system," he said.

Mr Dolan said he was aware of the various reasons given for the shorter sentencing but that he didn't believe remorse should be taken into account.

"Four and a half years for killing somebody isn't enough and the law states that for death by dangerous driving the maximum sentence is 14 years. In Northern Ireland the maximum sentence has never been used and I find that hard to believe.

"What do they need to do to get 14 years, what do they need to do to get 10 years, our guy got four and a half years in prison and in my opinion it's just disgusting, it's not acceptable and it needs to change."

A Department of Justice spokesperson said that a "comprehensive review" was underway which was examining death by dangerous driving.

"A number of pre-consultation engagement events have been held and the review team has met with Mr Dolan and listened to his concerns. The next stage of the review will be to conduct a full public consultation exercise," the spokesperson said.

“Any legislative changes to be taken forward as a result of the public consultation will be dependent upon Ministerial and Assembly decisions.”

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