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'The Kinney family are lucky, we received a life sentence'

The Blacks

The grieving family of 19-year-old HGV driver Johnny Black, who was killed in the horrific three-vehicle crash while driving towards Ballycastle, say they have been "handed a life sentence" after their loved one's death.

Johnny's father Seamus described the Kinney family as "lucky" for their sentences, which he said contrasted with the permanent sentence of bereavement facing the victims' families.

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.

"The judge handled it in a very capable way, but as a family, we got our sentence on April 6, 2015 for life," Seamus stated.

"None of them got life today. They have nothing to complain about. What does this sentence change? We're one less.

"The Kinney family should be happy to have gotten off so lightly.

"The last two years have been frustrating - we have lived to go to court and come back from court.

"This has dragged on for two years and five months.

"I was talking to a man who lost his son and daughter 16 years ago and he said it doesn't go away, you just learn to live with it.

"We're going home and Johnny's not with us. It's a lot to live with. He was my son, my friend and my business partner.

"Johnny was everything you could look for in a son or a person. He was quick, he was clever, he knew what was going on around him. He was a great lad, he was humorous.

"He was my son and I was proud of him, and he was the youngest HGV driver to get his licence in Northern Ireland."

Johnny's sister Nuala said that her brother had lived in the family home and had been due to follow his father into the family haulage business, but their hopes for his future had been dashed.

"You just can't put it into words," she stated. "He was working with Dad, he loved haulage and lorries, they were his passion, and he would have carried on the family business.

"Before Johnny died we had livestock and he loved the livestock side, but after he was killed we had to sell the livestock off.

"It was too much for dad to run on his own, so we had to sell off half of the family business.

"This has been a long, long road up to now and we will have peace from that side of it, that there will be no more running to court, but that doesn't bring Johnny back."

Seamus also paid tribute to the emergency services who attended the scene on the night of the incident.

"Many of them knew Johnny and were friendly with him in the yard and had an awful hard job that night to deal with getting him out of the car," he explained, wiping away tears.

"We're very grateful for that."

Belfast Telegraph