Belfast Telegraph

Savage attack on my son left him brain damaged but we'll fight on for justice, vows Lisburn mother

Family tell of injured Scott’s solitary life in England as they are left ‘stuck’ in NI

Helen-Louise with her son Scott Vineer
Helen-Louise with her son Scott Vineer
Scott in hospital
Scott back home after six months in hospital
A recent family picture of Scott Vineer (right) with mum Helen-Louise Doney, her husband Paul, and her sons Darryl and Ben with his daughter
Scott and Helen-Louise after the sentencing of Ryan Craig
Ryan Craig

By Mary Magee

The mother of a Northern Ireland man who was savagely beaten and left for dead has said her family's life has been changed forever.

Scott Vineer, who has autism, was brutally attacked as he walked home from college seven years ago.

His mum, Helen-Louise Doney, said the senseless assault had left Scott, now 24, with severe brain damage.

The attack also affected her and husband Paul.

Both suffered from mental health issues after Scott moved away to England, as he felt he could no longer live in Lisburn.

She said: "Scott has been left with life-changing conditions and he is now over in England in a room and never goes out.

"What sort of life is that for a young man like Scott?"

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She has pledged that the family will continue their fight for justice.

Just one person, Ryan Craig, was convicted over the attack. He was jailed for five years in 2015.

Despite a battle with authorities, the family have not received any compensation - despite Scott's life-changing injuries.

Helen-Louise, a mother-of-four, said Scott made the decision to move away when, following the attack, he was taunted one day by two boys.

It made him so fearful that something else would happen to him, he left Lisburn, promising never to return.

He moved to England to be close to his brother, Ben, who is now his carer.

His mother said that Scott now stays alone in a one bedroom flat, only leaving it to attend a day centre once a week.

"The sad thing is I know Scott is living on his own," Helen-Louise said.

"His brother is now his carer and he lives close by him, but he cannot be with him 24/7.

"We have tried for five years to move back to England, but are unable to find anywhere that will accept Housing Benefit and pets.

"Believe me, we have been trying to find somewhere suitable for over five years.

"We are stuck."

Helen-Louise said her son is no longer the bubbly, outgoing young man he once was, when he was living close to his mother.

She feels that had it not been for the vicious attack, Scott would still be living close to her in Lisburn and near his friends.

Scott was a student at South Eastern Regional College at the time of the attack.

He was making his way home on September 6, 2012 when he was set upon by a gang of up to three men.

The alarm was raised when he did not return home, and Scott was found with serious brain injuries near a disused warehouse by a dog handler on September 7, 2012.

Footmarks were left on Scott's face and he was beaten with a plank of wood.

One of his attackers even rummaged through his pockets and threw away his mobile phone so that he could not call for help.

Scott was so badly injured that the family were told that he might not survive.

He could only be identified by bracelets that he was wearing.

However, he defied the odds and after a long period in hospital returned home.

He was in a coma for three months and it was a further three months before he was allowed out of hospital.

Ryan Craig, of Ashmount Gardens, was jailed for five years in 2015 for the attack.

Craig admitted causing grievous bodily harm to Scott and is expected to be released next year.

Helen-Louise said she feels the sentence handed down to his attacker was too lenient and it is Scott who is the one still suffering.

She said that she has little doubt that a gang of three attacked Scott but that only one person was ever jailed.

Helen-Louise added: "Craig is due to be released in November 2020.

"He was sentenced to 10 years but will only serve five years in prison and another five on licence.

"We are just so angry by it all. As for the others who attacked him, they are totally walking around free.

"It is a disgrace.

"My husband Paul and I suffered some mental health issues which we got help for, as it affected us so badly especially when Scott moved away.

"We never got any professional support at all at the time, especially during the three years it took to prosecute Craig.

"Scott has not received a penny in compensation and if he does it will go straight into a trust fund."

Helen-Louise said Scott's life has been transformed by the savage attack.

She said being parted from her son is heartbreaking.

She added: "Scott sits a lot on his own in the flat and the only time he leaves is to go to the day centre. He still has severe brain damage and his head is now tilting to one side.

"Those people that attacked Scott meant to kill him. That I have no doubt.

"Scott should be here in Lisburn with me but instead he is in England.

"I understand why he is away, but it's hard for me as a mother. I want to be with him.

"That is the way he wants to live, but if I was near him I could go take him out. My son, Ben who is his carer, works three jobs and has two children."

Scott's mother said that her son is genuinely concerned about when Craig gets out of jail.

"What happens when Scott's attacker Ryan Craig gets out?

"Scott would be forever looking over his shoulder.

"Scott's brother is his carer but due to his commitments cannot be with him all the time.

"He tried to live a normal life here in Lisburn but it was all too much for Scott and he wanted to get away, to be away from Lisburn and all the bad memories.

"Craig will be out next year but what about my son? We thought he was going to get the maximum 15-year sentence but it ended up he only got five years.

"He put Scott through hell and I feel he got off way too lightly."

Judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as early guilty pleas, co-operation with police and remorse, as well as aggravating factors such as intent and excessive violence.

However, Helen-Louise said: "Scott has needed daily aftercare and will need assistance for the rest of his life.

"This is because someone had taken a dislike to Scott. No other reason for it.

"I just don't know what goes through someone's mind to do this to another human being."

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