Northern Ireland

Daughter's anger at decision on death driver sentence

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Media captionSentences need to increase for drivers who cause death on the roads, says Katie Weir

The daughter of a couple killed by a speeding driver has said she is distraught that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) will not refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.

Last month County Down man Charles Macartney, 20, was jailed for 14 months and banned from driving for five years after he admitted causing the deaths of Dean and Sandra Weir in March 2017.

The maximum sentence for dangerous driving in NI is 14 years.

"He got away with it," said Katie Weir.

"As far as I am concerned, he murdered my parents. I didn't get any justice."

The couple's daughter described Macartney as "a self-proclaimed boy racer".

She added: "He was fully aware he pushed his car to the limit and when you drive at excess speed you can kill."

A court heard that Maccartney, of Manse Road in Newtownards, lost control of his car while taking a bend in wet conditions on Dunover Road near Ballywalter, County Down, at almost 90mph (145km/h).

Image copyright Weir family
Image caption Katie's parents Dean and Sandra died weeks apart as a result of the crash

His car struck a kerb before crossing into the other lane and into a car travelling in the opposite direction, killing Dean Weir.

Mr Weir's wife Sandra died from her injuries a few weeks later.

At Newtownards Crown Court last month, Judge Geoffrey Millar QC said he sentenced Macartney, who was 18 at the time of the offence, in accordance with the Court of Appeal guidelines.

The judge said a reduced tariff was warranted due to the young driver's guilty pleas; evidence of his remorse; his inexperience as a driver; and a clear criminal record.

In a statement, the PPS said it has carried out a thorough examination of the case and the sentencing guidelines and has concluded it cannot be referred to the Court of Appeal.

"We understand that this conclusion will be deeply disappointing to the family," it added.

"We have provided detailed reasons for our decision.

"We offer our sincere condolences to the family of Dean and Sandra Weir and we acknowledge the depths of the their loss in such tragic and distressing circumstances."

'Sentences need to change'

But through tears Ms Weir said: "They aren't the ones who have lost their parents.

"Christmases hurt me. I have a house by myself. It is sad because there is no-one there.

Image caption The collision happened on Dunover Road near Ballywalter on St Patrick's Day 2017

"I want 10 years - if I could get 10 years, he deserves it.

"People say that he has to live with the fact that he killed my parents - yes, so do I every day.

"He killed them - he can move on."

Ms Weir said she would like to refer the case to the attorney general for an increase in sentence, even if it is just an extra three months to his prison term.

She has also vowed to fight for heavier sentences for drivers who kill.

"There will be someone else in the same situation as me and I just want them to have more justice than what I am getting," she added.

"I want it to change, it needs to change."

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