Monday 11 December 2017

It's a slap in face, says widower as scrambler rider who killed mum to be freed on first anniversary of death

Valerie Armstrong
Valerie Armstrong

Cate McCurry

The husband of a mother-of-three who was killed by a scrambler motorcycle has hit out at the authorities after it emerged her killer will be released on the first anniversary of her death.

Gary Lewis (18) crashed into Valerie Armstrong as she walked her dog in Colin Glen Forest Park in Co Antrim last summer.

It has been revealed that Lewis will be released from prison one year to the day she died.

Mrs Armstrong's husband Seamus said it was "another slap in the face to his family".

He has reached out to the probation service in a bid to have the release date changed to prevent further pain for the family.

The Poleglass teenager will have served four months of his 18-month sentence for the mother's death.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Mrs Armstrong's widower said: "Clearly, nobody has taken into consideration that it's exactly one year to the day that he caused the accident.

"According to what police told me, the probation service is just going along the lines of what the judge had given in his sentencing.

"It's another slap in the face basically - to myself and to the family. It's very inconsiderate that no one sat and looked at the paperwork and put two and two together and said: 'This is exactly one year to the day that we are letting this fella out.'"

Read More: Tearful teen charged over death of mum-of-three in scrambler bike tragedy

Lewis was handed an 18-month prison sentence in March of this year. Mrs Armstrong was mother to Dylan (10), seven-year-old Lucy and five-year-old Sophie-Bell.

Her husband added: "While our family will be mourning the first year anniversary, his friends will be out partying and celebrating that he's out.

"It's sickening.

"So I am waiting on word from the probation service to hear if they are going to do anything, but to be honest, I am not holding out much hope about it."

Earlier this year Belfast Youth Court heard Lewis admitted drinking three beers before the collision on a motorbike later found to have had defective brakes.

Witnesses said Lewis, aged 17 at the time, held 35-year-old Mrs Armstrong's hand and cried uncontrollably as she lay bleeding from fatal injuries.

He wrote a personal letter to her family, which was handed into court during the proceedings.

Read More: Mum-of-three dies after being seriously injured in scrambler bike collision

Lewis, of Colinvale in the Dunmurry area of Belfast, pleaded guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and using a motor vehicle without insurance.

He was also told to serve another three months of a previously suspended sentence for unrelated matters.

Mrs Armstrong died in hospital following the collision on July 19.

Lewis swerved into her on a friend's scrambler as he tried to avoid hitting her dog in a pedestrian area of the park, the court heard.

The prosecution contended that he had been travelling at between 35-40 mph, while defence lawyers argued that the bike was only doing 20mph.

Belfast Telegraph

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