Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Many will feel Katie's anger over sentence

In court yesterday, Charles Hugh Macartney, whose fast-moving car ploughed into Mr and Mrs Weir's vehicle on March 17, 2017, was sentenced to 14 months in jail and ordered to spend another 14 months on supervised licence (stock photo)
In court yesterday, Charles Hugh Macartney, whose fast-moving car ploughed into Mr and Mrs Weir's vehicle on March 17, 2017, was sentenced to 14 months in jail and ordered to spend another 14 months on supervised licence (stock photo)

Editor's Viewpoint

There is immense sadness and suffering involved in the story concerning Katie Weir whose parents Dean and Sandra were involved in an accident which led to the death of her father at the scene and the death of her mother a few weeks later.

In court yesterday, Charles Hugh Macartney, whose fast-moving car ploughed into Mr and Mrs Weir's vehicle on March 17, 2017, was sentenced to 14 months in jail and ordered to spend another 14 months on supervised licence. He was also banned from driving for five years.

Katie said that she had felt "let down" by the sentence, but it is very important to bear in mind that judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and they must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as early guilty pleas, co-operation with the police and also remorse, as well as aggravating factors such as intent and excessive violence.

Apart from the legal factors involved, it is almost impossible to imagine the anguish and grief inflicted upon Katie Weir who, until tragedy struck, had every expectation of having both her parents in her life for many years to come.

Like any other daughter, she could have reasonably expected them to be able to share with her all those familiar milestones in normal family life, and to have enjoyed the reassurance of their love and support throughout.

Instead of this, Katie experienced a series of heart-wrenching events. First of all losing her father, then having to break the dreadful news to her mother as she lay waiting on the operating table and finally losing her mother as well a short time later.

Nothing can bring back the parents she adored, but nevertheless she is entitled to feel that after the court ruling, justice, in some sense, has been served.

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The court case may be a kind of closure to a dreadful period in her life, but there is also the reality that punishment is supposed to be a deterrent to those who break the law.

Charles Hugh Macartney will still be a young man when he is released and still in his 20s when he is allowed back on the roads, and none of this seems fair in human terms.

Katie has spoken of her anger following the sentencing and has said that sometimes she wishes that she had also died in the crash.

This is a sentiment with which many people will identify and their thoughts will be with Katie as she faces the rest of her life with such sad and searing memories.

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