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Editor's Viewpoint

Crash teen's family feel let down by law

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Cameron Taggart (16), who was injured in a crash in 2017

Cameron Taggart (16), who was injured in a crash in 2017

Cameron Taggart (16), who was injured in a crash in 2017

The law and justice can sometimes seem very remote concepts to the lay person. Is an 18-month jail sentence - with half of it spent on licence - an appropriate punishment for someone who knocked down a 14-year-old Glengormley boy leaving him with life-changing injuries, including being unable to talk and being confined to a wheelchair?

For his family the punishment does not fit the crime. They point out that the boy, Cameron Taggart, is broken as undoubtedly also are their hearts. He was hit by a car doing 59mph in a 30mph zone and now sits in a wheelchair, able to move his arms and legs but unable to walk or talk.

To add pathos to his case the court was told that he now lives with a foster family who have a specially adapted home for their child with cerebral palsy. Cameron's family visit him several times a week but that only emphasises how life has changed utterly for both him and them.

The judge in the case accepted that the driver in the case never intended to harm anyone, but pointed out that her driving fell well below the standard expected of any careful or competent driver.

The accident happened in a built-up area and while the 25-year-old driver Megan Anderson was of previous good character and riven with remorse she should have been much more careful, especially since she was driving a very powerful car.

The anger of the Taggart family at the sentence passed on her is understandable. Like many others they point out that after nine months when she is released from custody - and as long as she does not commit any other offences in the next nine months - she is free to continue with her life.

They, and Cameron in particular, will never have the life they expected. Their sentence is virtually a life one.

That said, it has to be emphasised that judges have to abide by sentencing guidelines which take into account among others, mitigating and aggravating factors, an early guilty plea, any previous convictions, and the seriousness of the offence.

However, the cold logic of the courts can be at odds with the emotions felt by those who are victims of a crime. In truth, no sentence can ever be judged sufficient in cases where someone is killed or left with severe, life-changing injuries. The Taggart family will not feel they have been treated fairly by the justice system, no matter how carefully its intricacies are explained to them.

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