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9 September 2004 Edition

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Sentence "a disgrace" say bereaved

The group Families Bereaved Through Car Crime have described a six-year sentence handed out to a habitual car thief who caused the death of a young man as "ridiculous" and an "absolute disgrace".

They were speaking after 19-year-old Malachy Delaney was sentenced to six years at Belfast Court on Tuesday 31 August for causing the death of 25-year-old Rossa Quigley who was killed after he was struck by a stolen Vauxhall Astra on the Cliftonville Road on 4 April last year.

Quigley had been on his way to see his girlfriend after delivering a birthday present to his mother when he was mown down by Delaney.

Delaney pleaded guilty to 11 charges, including three of dangerous driving. The court heard that Delaney had been stealing cars since the age of 14.

Sentencing the death driver Judge Desmond Marrinan told the court that it was a miracle that only one person had been killed and said that the death toll could have been much higher. Marrinan also criticised the use of the term 'joyriding'.

"There was nothing joyful in what you did, a better description of what you did that night would to be to describe it as playing Russian Roulette with the lives of the innocent".

Quigley's father Frank said the pain had been unbearable for the family. "He was going home to see his girlfriend. He had just seen his mother, it was her birthday".

Marie McDonald, a member of the Families Bereaved Through Car Crime and whose son was killed by a death driver in April 2000 said the sentence was a disgrace. "It is terrible that a judge would hand out such a lenient sentence as this".

Four other West Belfast men who were in the stolen car were also sentenced. 26-year-old Seán Moran and 19-year-old Paul Mulligan were given sentences of six months, suspended for two years. Malachy Goodman 26 was jailed for 12 months and 29-year-old Seán Mulligan was sentenced to nine months.

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