Northern Ireland

Enda Dolan: Father calls for politicians to unite to change sentencing laws

A photograph of Enda Dolan in his school uniform
Image caption Enda Dolan was a first-year architecture student at Queen's University

The father of Enda Dolan, who was killed by a drunk driver, has challenged Stormont politicians to unite to change the law on sentencing.

Mr Dolan, 18, died when he was knocked down on the Malone Road in Belfast.

David Lee Stewart, 31, was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and three and a half years on licence.

Peter Dolan, Enda's father, called for politicians to set aside their differences and legislate for tougher sentences.

He made the call as it emerged that a former minister in the Stormont Executive described the sentencing in his son's case as "disgraceful".

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Media captionThe father of Enda Dolan, who was killed by a drunk driver, has challenged Stormont politicians to unite to change the law on sentencing.

In a letter to the Dolan family, former UUP minister Danny Kennedy said he was "genuinely shocked and very disappointed" by the verdict.

Maximum sentence

Enda Dolan, a first-year student at Queen's University, died after being carried 800 yards on a van driven by drunk driver Stewart in October 2014.

The court heard Stewart took 13 drinks, including six pints of beer and four Jagerbombs, a mix of a spirit and an energy drink.

Traces of drugs, including cocaine, were also found in his system.

Image caption Enda Dolan was returning to his student accommodation when he was knocked down in 2014

The passenger in the van, William Ross Casement, 21, from Belvoir Drive, Belfast, was given 50-hours community service.

In Northern Ireland, the maximum sentence for a drunk driver knocking down and killing someone is 14 years.

Mr Dolan said: " We have had 108 MLAs appointed to our assembly.

"We will thrown down the gauntlet to those MLAs and ask them to change the sentencing from 14 years to 20 years.

"There is no reason why that can't be done. It is important.

"There is no deterrent and 14 years of a maximum sentence isn't sufficient under the current law."

Support

Former justice minister David Ford said the assembly does have the power to change the law.

"That is what we did in the last assembly term over the issue of sentences for animal cruelty," he said.

"Clearly if we increase the sentence then it sends a message to the judges that there is an expectation on the part of the public that higher sentences will be given, but it does still very much remain with the individual judge on every individual case."

Image caption Former transport minister Danny Kennedy said he was 'disgusted' at the sentences

Since the sentence was passed, the Dolan family, from Killyclogher near Omagh, County Tyrone, have received scores of letters, cards and messages of support.

Many of the messages have expressed outrage at what they described as very lenient sentences.

One of the letters was sent by the former transport minister Danny Kennedy.

He wrote: "Dear Peter and Niamh, I want to take the opportunity on behalf of my family to express our disgust at the sentences handed down to those responsible for the death of your much loved son, Enda.

"I was genuinely shocked and very disappointed at the disgraceful verdicts and I want to assure you that I believe those feelings are held right across the community in terms of this decision."

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