EMBARGOED – 09.00 WEDNESDAY 15TH
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.
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
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
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
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
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).
NOTES TO EDITORS
Since 1996, 48 people have been killed in Northern Ireland in domestic
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
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
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
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.