Man calls for a change in the law

A Lisburn man has called for a change in the law after his brother’s killer was seen in the Belfast City Centre recently, months before he was due to be released from jail.

David Heasley
David Heasley
David Heasley

David Heasley, was talking after his brother Jim’s killer was spotted out by his son Rodney, recently.

“We were always assured that Jim’s killer would not be released before January 2015,” he said.

“My son was out at Great Victoria Street when he saw him. It has brought everything back to us. The system has to change.”

Jim (70) was attacked as he walked home from the Pigeon Club at Longstone Street in 2010. Ten days later he died in hospital from brain injuries. The police originally treated the incident as a fall, only realising he had been assaulted a week later.

David, said his family only realised the man who was charged with his brother’ s manslaughter was out of jail ‘as free as a bird.’

“My son was driving a taxi and saw Jackie Allen walking along and he couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It has retraumatised all of us. It has just brought the whole thing right back again.

“And now we don’t know which of us is going to see him next? We didn’t know he was on day release or phased day release from jail so soon. We have been told that he was also seen in Lsburn.”

Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said: “We are currently involved in looking at this case and how the police service have supported the family.

“We deeply regret any distress or hurt that our actions may have brought to the family or friends of Mr Heasley and offer our sincere apologies.

“We have taken steps to ensure the service inkeeping families informedmeets the highest standards. ”

Northern Ireland Prison Service runs the Prisoner Release Victim Information Scheme (PRVIS) which offers victims the opportunity to give and receive information about prisoners who have been convicted of a crime against them.

However there is is a voluntary ‘optin’ scheme which means that if the victim does not register they will not receive any information.

However David said he was unaware of the scheme.

Jim died after he was attacked after he has got into an arguement with a man at a local pigeon club.

The man had originally been charged with murder but during his trial he admitted to the lesser charge.

Later at an inquest into the death of Jim Heasley in Belfast Coroner’s Court, Coroner John Leckey heard that his head ‘had been subject to violent impact, potentially a number of kicks,’

“In England and Wales it is different,” David said. “Victims families are told directly you dont opt into the scheme,” Mr Heasely said.

“So essentially this man who killed my brother has had 25 per cent taken off of his sentence,” he said “Noone has been able to explain why. We feel very let down and that we have been treated very badly.

“We feel that we cannot walk down the street in Lisburn before we bump into him. The whole thing needs reviewed.

“I know there are hundreds and thousands who have to deal with this every day - but they should not have to. At the minutes Jim’s killer is living in a hostel - that is not a jail.

“The victims voice does not count. I feel that we have been completely ignored.”