Victim’s family hits out at killer driver sentence

The case was heard at Dungannon Crown Court
The case was heard at Dungannon Crown Court

Relatives of a Fermanagh restaurateur yesterday hit out at sentencing guidelines after a man whose driving killed her walked free from court with community service.

Dungannon Crown Court Judge Neil Rafferty told Damien Maguire, 43, from Ballygawley, that he had failed to appreciate that cars in front of him were getting closer before the head-on collision in Fivemiletown which killed Eileen Maguire in 2013.

Judge Rafferty had considered a four-month jail term, but taking advice of senior law lords imposed a community service order instead.

But speaking through their solicitor after the hearing, Mrs Maguire’s family said they were “simply devastated” and are “still struggling to come to terms with what happened”.

They did not feel that justice had been done but were “not critical of the judge” and instead blamed “the system, the law and the sentencing guidelines”. Community service is “not an adequate sentence where a life has been lost” they added.

In November the News Letter and sister Johnston Press titles launched a UK-wide campaign for stiffer sentences for killer drivers – Drive for Justice. Over 350 people convicted of killing or grievously injuring others on Northern Ireland roads had walked free in the previous six years, with no record of the maximum 10-14 year sentence being given since at least 2009.

READ MORE: Full court report of the sentencing hearing for Damien Maguire

READ MORE: Sentences for drivers who killer people must be increased sharply

READ MORE: Drive for Justice - welcome for life sentence plans for killer dirvers