The heartbroken family of a Co Tyrone student killed by a drink driver has lashed out at the sentences handed to the two men involved in his death – and have branded the legal system in Northern Ireland as a “disgrace”.
Speaking outside Laganside Court following the sentencing of David Lee Stewart and William Ross Casement, Enda Dolan’s father Peter said the lives of those who loved the 18-year-old have been “ruined, shattered and damaged beyond repair”.
Stewart, the driver of the car, had consumed at least 13 drinks. He will serve half of his seven-year sentence in prison and was banned from driving for five years.
His passenger Casement was given 50 hours of community service and two years probation. He has been banned from driving for 12 months.
Mr Dolan also spoke of what he felt was a “complete lack of sympathy and support” for victims’ families, saying the family has to try and deal with the loss of Enda “every hour of every day”.
Mr Dolan and his wife Niamh attended Wednesday’s sentencing at Belfast Crown Court, along with other family members and friends of their son, who was a Queen’s University student when he was killed on Belfast’s Malone Road in October 2014.
He read a statement which detailed how their son’s untimely death has left the Dolan family serving their own life sentence.
The statement also set out their disgust at the sentences imposed.
The statement said: “Enda was a totally loved and adored son, big brother, grandson, boyfriend and friend.
“After years of hard work and studying, Enda had just started out on an exciting and new chapter in his life.
“He was so full of excitement and enthusiasm during his last three weeks of life since he had started at Queen’s University studying architecture.
“He had already made lots of new friends, but loved coming home at the weekends with his washing, to get proper food and to see his family and girlfriend.
“To quote his former vice-principal at Omagh CBS, ‘Enda was a talented guitarist who enriched many social gatherings and public events with his skilful performances’.
“He was a gifted artist whose work reflected his unique flair and attention to detail.
“He was also an avid runner who represented his school and Omagh Harriers in numerous athletic events.
“In his final year at Omagh CBS, he was appointed deputy head prefect in recognition of his deserved reputation as a perfect role model for younger boys, and the outstanding contribution he made to his school.
“Enda’s life was brutally ended on the night of his sister’s 16th birthday. As he walked on the pavement returning to his halls of residence, he was mowed down and left lying in the middle of the road by Lee Stewart and Ross Casement.
“The image of our son lying dead in the Royal Victoria Hospital will haunt us forever and we hope that Stewart and Casement think about what they did every day for the rest of their lives.
“Our lives have been ruined, shattered and damaged beyond repair and we have been left with a life sentence.
“In our opinion, there has been absolutely no remorse for Enda’s death until last Friday ironically, when Stewart and Casement were due to be sentenced, and this angers us deeply.
“So many other parents have stood in our shoes disappointed and disgusted at the sentence, and many more will unfortunately do so in the future, unless something is done to deter individuals from driving under the influence of drink and drugs.
“Furthermore, we want to take this opportunity to say that the legal system in Northern Ireland is a disgrace and should be addressed.
“Also, the way victims’ families are treated is appalling. There is a complete lack of sympathy, with minimal or no support – this requires immediate change.
“We, as parents, think about Enda all the time. Over the past year and a half, we wonder how his appearance would have changed, what sort of young man he would be and how he would be progressing in his career had his life not been cut short.
“We have to deal with the loss of Enda every hour of every day for the rest of our lives. The missed family celebrations, the Christmases, the family holidays, the 21st birthday he won’t have, the exams he never sat, the graduation never attended, the engagement, the wedding and the grandchildren that will never be. This is our life sentence.”