EFFORTS by the family of Enda Dolan to appeal the sentence handed down to their son’s killer have taken a significant step forward this week.
On Monday, the Public Prosecution Service confirmed that Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC had sought leave to refer the sentence handed to David Lee Stewart to the Court of Appeal on the grounds that it is “unduly lenient”.
Stewart (31) from Gray’s Park Avenue, Belfast was ordered to serve three-and-a-half years behind bars after pleading guilty to killing the Killyclogher teenager in a hit-and-run drink drive incident on the Malone Road, Belfast in the early hours of October 15 2014.
The Belfast man was three times over the alcohol limit when he mounted a pavement in a van and fatally struck Enda Dolan. He drove 800 yards with the teenager on his bonnet before he stopped and then drove off.
The sentence imposed on Stewart was branded “a disgrace” by Enda Dolan’s father Peter, who said it had made “a mockery of the judicial system”.
The PPS was initially asked to review the sentence by a member of the public on the grounds that it was unduly lenient.
The Dolan family later registered their own concerns with the PPS.
Welcoming Monday’s development, Peter Dolan said it had brought the family a step closer to achieving justice.
“It’s a positive in trying to get justice for Enda. While it doesn’t change anything in that he’s not physically with us, we welcome the decision.
“It’s the first in a series of hurdles that we have to jump over in order to get some justice, so it’s good to see it.”
He said the family would meet with PPS in the coming weeks to outline the way forward, with the appeal process set to formerly begin in the Autumn.
GROUNDSWELL OF SUPPORT
Peter Dolan said the family have the support of a number of local families who have also been bereaved by drunk drivers and left frustrated by the sentencing.
“There’s an unbelievable groundswell of support across the North of Ireland,” he said. “There are a number of families who have been in contact, a lot of them local families who have lost loved ones and have been left disappointed with the sentence handed out in their case.
“They are just really annoyed for us and what has happened in our case and they are very much behind us and our quest for justice.”
The news from the PPS this week comes as the Dolan family challenged MLAs to enact a change in the law to bring tougher sentencing to killer drink drivers.
Mr Dolan said that alongside the appeal process, the family will continue its campaign to lobby for a change in legislation.
“That campaign will hopefully run parallel with what we are hoping to do.
“It’s not going to affect our case in terms of the sentence the criminals were handed out, but it will in the future for somebody else,” he said.