>> 23 Sep 2004


Next, the murderers of Trevor Lowry.

While 15 years is not as scandalous as the sentence given to Doyle, it is still far too little. My view is that murder should have an automatic tarriff of 30 years minimum and that the trial judge should have to justify any reduction on the basis of exceptional circumstances, and that this should be subject to appeal by the Attorney General. This is what should be the proposed legislation, not further reductions!

The story is taken from BBC News Online:

Two people have been sentenced for beating a man to death. Harry Speers, 45, from Carntall Road, Newtownabbey, was told at Belfast Crown Court on Friday that he must serve at least 15 years for the murder of Trevor Lowry. Mr Lowry, 49, a father of two, from Glengormley, died on 31 March 2001, two days after being lured into an alleyway at Harmin Drive in the village where he was attacked and brutally beaten.

At the time, the authorities said it was believed Mr Lowry, a Protestant, was targeted in the mistaken belief that he was a Catholic. Also in court was Ron Craig, 20, Richmond Avenue, Glengormley, who was a schoolboy at the time of the attack. He was told that he will have to serve at least 11 years for his role.

Sentencing the two men, Mr Justice Girvan said while there was only a "hint of sectarianism in the background of the case", he was satisfied that Mr Lowry was "targeted as a victim". He added the inference was that he was "either lured down a darkened alleyway to be attacked, or was intimidated into going into the laneway - then set upon and kicked in the most dreadful circumstances".

Mr Justice Girvan said that during the unprovoked attack, in which Mr Lowry had little or no chance to defend himself, it appeared his attackers "didn't care whether he lived or died - they didn't care what happened to him". The judge also reiterated his finding that Craig had lied during evidence about any involvement in the attack and that he had tried to stop it. Mr Justice Girvan said he was satisfied that Craig had "actively participated in the attack".

Turning to Speers the judge said he had shown no remorse and had failed to give any evidence to explain his role. Speers, he said, had either participated in the actual kicking or actively encouraged the assault. "As the senior person present, and obviously a man of some influence in the community, he had it well within his powers to stop this terrible incident. In terms of moral turpitude, he carries a graver responsibility than Craig who was obviously an irresponsible young man of limited intelligence," Mr Justice Girvan said.

This column will not just highlight ludicrously lenient sentences, but will also give credit where it's due. It would be impossible this week to ignore the case of the two perverts who abused children at a Barnardo's home outside Belfast for many years in the 1970's and 1980's. Congratulations to the judge - the victims were pleasantly surprised by the sentences, and so was I.

The story (which I have shortened slightly) is from the News Letter:

Two evil former Dr Barnardo's child carers who subjected eight children to a campaign of sexual and physical abuse were sent to jail yesterday for a total of 29 years. As Belfast Crown Court Judge Mr Justice Weir outlined the details of their "revolting activities", the first woman to be convicted of instutionalised sex abuse in Northern Ireland, 69-year-old Sarah Jayne Margaret Hewitt, sat in the dock shaking her head and even giving a wry smile as she was led to the cells to begin her 11-year jail term. Beside her, co-accused 46-year-old Robert George Anderson showed little or no emotion as the judge told him he would serve 18 years for raping and abusing two girls, indecently assaulting another and abusing a young boy who was in his care.

At the end of their trial in June, Hewitt, formerly from Coast Road in Drain's Bay near Larne, was unanimously convicted of 53 charges of indecent assault, gross indecency and common assault. Anderson, formerly from Hillhead Road, Ballycarry, Co Antrim, was unanimously convicted of 17 similar charges, including two counts of rape.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Weir said that both the perverts still maintained they were innocent of the rape and abuse they forced their former wards to suffer. He said that, for all the victims but one, they did not have a "secure and loving family" to protect them from Hewitt and Anderson's depredations. "In due course, they all had the misfortune to end up in the care of Barnardo's at Macedon Children's Home, at a time when you two were employed in it.

I say 'in care' but that expression has a hollow ring in the context of what happened to them there." The judge said that Hewitt was often the most senior carer there at nights and at weekends, with the perverted pair having the home "virtually to yourselves and, therefore, could do what you liked without fear of being surprised"


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