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Northern Ireland mum's forgiveness for daughter's killer inspires Australian justice scheme


Claire Kelly, who was killed in a car crash in 2011

Claire Kelly, who was killed in a car crash in 2011

Claire Kelly, who was killed in a car crash in 2011

A Northern Ireland mother who met and forgave the drunk driver who killed her daughter has inspired a new Australian justice scheme through her charitable act.

20-year-old student Claire Kelly died following a car accident at the Old Glenshane Road near Claudy just before Christmas 2011, when the car she was travelling in left the road, and overturned.

Kevin Brolly pleaded guilty to causing the death of Ms Kelly by careless driving and with excess alcohol.

He also admitted driving dangerously and without insurance.

Ms Kelly, from Dungiven, Co Derry had been a passenger in Brolly's car at the time of her death.

He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Ms Kelly's mother Denise McAuley visited Brolly in prison in the hope of getting some answers surrounding her daughter's death.

The BBC have reported that Australian authorities decided to set up a scheme for offenders to meet their victims after the former Attorney General of Victoria heard Mrs McAuley speak at a conference in Belfast.

"He wanted to see me face to face and to tell me everything," Mrs McAuley told the BBC.

"I went up, shook his hand, gave him that confidence.

"And by shaking his hand I was hoping to befriend a friend of my daughter's.

"I told him I wished it had have been him who died, he wished that too."

Mrs McAuley said she also gave Brolly permission to visit her daughter's grave.

"I had no problem with that, he was a friend of Claire's," she said.

"I could see his pain, and feel his pain."

"He told me that Claire was never on her own, there was always police or ambulance staff with her."

Former Governor of Magilligan Prison David Eagleson said that the prison tried to give offenders the opportunity to meet their victims when possible.

"These are very sensitive meetings and need to be handled with great care, but the outcomes have been very positive and people find they get their questions answered.

"Many offenders genuinely are remorseful and want to make some sort of reparations, it's not unknown for offenders to approach authorities and ask to meet their victim and if appropriate and everyone agrees it can be facilitated.

"It can help everyone involved."

Mr Eagleson will tell Mrs McAuley's story at a conference in Canada next week.

Belfast Telegraph