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Women’s Aid outrage at lenient sentence for murderer 

Northern Ireland Women’s Aid Federation (Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland) is outraged at the overly lenient sentence passed by Mr. Justice Weir on Conor Doyle and is calling for an appeal of this case to have the tariff substantially increased.   Conor Doyle was found guilty last week of the savage murder of Angela Snoddy in 2002. 
Women’s Aid extends sincere sympathy to Angela’s family.   

Conor Doyle was given a life sentence to serve a minimum of just 10 years in prison.    Only when a harsher punishment is imposed on this violent man will there be a clear indication that Angela’s tragic death has not been trivialised or treated dismissively.   

The criminal justice system should act fully to meet its duty to reflect domestic violence as a key public safety and protection issue and ensure that court sentences reflect that seriousness. Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland believes that if violence takes place within a domestic context it needs to be viewed by judges as an aggravating rather than a mitigating factor and that the sentence should reflect this severity. 

Hilary Sidwell, Director of Northern Ireland Women’s Aid Federation said: 

“The message to abusive men needs to be that their violence will not be tolerated and that offenders will be severely punished.” She went on to say, “Women know that they have protection against attack, harassment and abuse at work or in the street; but they also have the right to know they need not put up with abuse at home and that the law will protect them." 

Unfortunately the outcome of this case is not unique.  The experience many women have of the criminal justice system is still intolerable.  Victims of domestic violence are often deterred from prosecuting their abusive partners by the thought of enduring years of uncertainty.  They are also put off by the protracted time it takes for a case to reach court. 

Abused women may not prosecute for a number of other reasons: lack of support available to them whilst going through the court system; the sometimes insensitive attitudes of the judiciary; and inappropriate media coverage.  A history of lenient sentences also contributes to this lack of trust in the system.   Instead of this unacceptable state of affairs, women need to be fully protected by both civil legislation and the criminal justice system and to feel the support of the public’s condemnation and rejection of domestic violence.

Northern Ireland Women’s Aid Federation urgently calls for the Attorney General to intervene in the case of Conor Gerard Doyle and appeal to have his sentence increased to the highest possible term.  

Women’s Aid Federation
Northern Ireland wishes to extend sincere sympathy to Angela’s family and to offer them support through this difficult time.  This support is also available to the thousands of women in Northern Ireland who are living with domestic violence.  Help is available by calling the Women’s Aid 24 hour helpline (0800 917 1414), or through all local Women’s Aid groups located throughout Northern Ireland (contact details in the phone book or via the helpline).




·         Since 1996, 48 people have been killed in Northern Ireland in domestic murders  

·         In 2003/04 16,926 domestic violence incidents were recorded over half of which involved violence. This is an increase of 1,414 (9.1%) on that reported in the previous year. 

·         There have been over 90,000 calls to the Women’s Aid 24 hour helpline since it was established in 1995. 

·         Last year, over 2,000 women and children were accommodated in Women’s Aid refuges throughout Northern Ireland. 

·         The British Crime Survey indicates that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. It cuts across class, age, religion and ethnic group. It is most commonly perpetrated by men against women.  

·         The impact of domestic violence on women can be serious health problems both mental and physical, due to repeated threatened and actual emotional, sexual and physical abuse.   

·         At its most serious domestic violence results in hospitalisation and death. 

·         The Women’s Aid 24 hour Helpline number is 028 9033 1818. Women can call the helpline for assistance and support.  For women who do not speak English, the helpline now uses Language Line, a UK wide professional interpreting service in over 100 languages.