Belfast Telegraph

Moving film shows the ‘ripple effect’ of joyriding on bereaved in Northern Ireland

Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

A hard-hitting film that aims to expose the 'ripple effect' felt by families bereaved by death drivers will be launched to mark Road Safety Week 2019.

The powerful video features the harrowing accounts of people who have lost loved ones at the hands of so-called joyriders.

A trailer has just been released by the group Families Bereaved Through Car Crime, which is behind the film that is scheduled to get a full airing in November.

Among the testimonies is that of Kevin Fitzpatrick, whose wife Dana and eight-year-old son Kevin Jnr died when a stolen car crashed into them on Belfast's Antrim Road in 2000.

A memorial to Dana and Kevin Daniel Fitzpatrick
A memorial to Dana and Kevin Daniel Fitzpatrick

Another scene hears from Bernadette Hall, who was with 15-year-old Debbie McComb in 2002 when she was struck by a stolen car and killed on the Springfield Road in west Belfast.

Tommy Holland, who helped found Families Bereaved Through Car Crime with some of the others affected by death drivers, said his main hope is that "this powerful message against joyriding will really hit home once and for all".

"People who watch this will see the reality of the broken families left behind by death drivers," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"This is only a preview. The longer version is going to hit people hard. We're trying to convey a message of hurt, pain and loss that lasts forever.

"Anyone who would consider getting involved in it would need to watch this film. If this film won't make people stop and think about the impact of death driving, nothing will."

He added: "We've been editing the preview for a couple of months, ahead of the film's full release. We decided to make a film this year because we've given talks in the past and we felt we needed to go further to do something that stands out to make sure our message gets heard."

Tommy, whose greengrocer cousin Harry Holland died after a stabbing in 2007, is among those interviewed in the film, which opens with the message that the "voices of those affected by death drivers are mostly hidden and unseen".

Kevin Fitzpatrick tells the filmmakers that what happened to his family "will live with me for the rest of my life".

Footage of a car being driven at speed in the Divis area features in the trailer, giving the viewer an idea of the problem faced by some communities.

Kevin Fitzpatrick
Kevin Fitzpatrick

Bernadette Hall says what she witnessed has "destroyed my life".

The trailer tells how the repercussions of that "one act of madness" is the 'ripple effect' that gives the film its name. The victims include Dermot Gallagher (26), Jon McDonald (23), Patrick Hanna (28), Rossa Quigley (25), Kieran Conlon (21), Charmaine Watson (27), Justin Watson (24), Debbie McComb (15), Maureen Brammeld (23), Kevin Fitzpatrick Jnr (8) and Dana Fitzpatrick (28).

Pivotal to the documentary is the group's message. They say: "Before someone is seriously injured or killed we call on the community to help stop this form of car crime now and support the groups and agencies trying to end it.

"We also appeal to those involved in joyriding and their families to please help it stop before they kill someone and destroy and devastate another family."

The full film will be available to the public, schools, social media, youth and community groups, youth justice services, probation services, courts and all those working with families and young people.

A mural in west Belfast for families bereaved through car crime
A mural in west Belfast for families bereaved through car crime

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph