Man sentenced to five years in jail for beating autistic student and leaving him for dead
A man who was part of a three-strong gang who beat an autistic student in a disused warehouse and left him for dead has been jailed for five years.
Judge Patrick Lynch QC told 20-year old Ryan Craig that while he will be released from custody after serving his sentence, his victim Scott Vineer "will never be released from the imprisonment you subjected him to."
Craig (20), from Ashmount Gardens in Lisburn, was intially charged with attempting to murder Scott Vineer in September 2012. He denied that charge, but earlier this year he admitted assaulting Mr Vineer causing him grevious bodily harm.
He was informed that he will serve half of a ten years sentence in custody, with the remaining five years spent on supervised licence upon his release.
Mr Vineer, who has autism, was a 17-year student at the time of the life-altering assault. He was attacked as he made his way home from Lisburn Tech and was beaten so severely that he had to be identified from bracelets he was wearing.
His failure to return home from college on September 6, 2012 sparked a manhunt which resulted in the then teenager being found with serious head and brain injuries in the grounds of the disused World of Furniture store on Laganbank Road.
A previous hearing was told that Craig and two other males who were not before the court led Mr Vineer to the disused warehouse where they beat him. Once on the ground, the defenceless Mr Vineer sustained numerous kicks to the head.
Craig, who at the time of the attack was a fellow student at Lisburn Tech, then proceeded to batter Mr Vineer as he lay on the ground with a plank of wood. As his victim lay unconscious, Craig then rifled through his pockets and threw away his mobile phone.
This action, the prosecution said, "removed Scott Vineer's chance of contact with the outside world."
During today's sentencing, Judge Lynch spoke of the significant impact the attack has had on Mr Vineer, saying that three years after the incident he has "significant ongoing physical limitations."
The Judge also spoke of the "profound effect" the attack has had on Mr Vineer's family, particularly his mother who was initially told that her son may not survive.
Regarding the attack itself, Judge Lynch said that while it had to be accepted that Craig did not inflict the "major injuries", he was a "willing participant" in the assault on Mr Vineer, and that he "clearly and deliberately involved himself" in the attack.
Telling the court that when they left Mr Vineer in the disused warehouse Craig "must have been aware" of the seriousness of their victim's injuries, Judge Lynch said the defendant would have know Mr Vineer was missing - and could have left an anonymous message to either the police or the media who at the time were running a campaign to find the student.
Craig's barrister Gavan Duffy QC made the case that his young client was remorseful for what he had done. However, Judge Lynch greeting this with scepticism and said that his criminal behaviour since the attack - which has included a petrol bomb attack on police - would suggest otherwise.