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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 December 2005, 17:11 GMT
Manslaughter term angers brother
Brij Sharma
Mr Sharma was a popular member of the north Belfast community
A man who admitted the manslaughter of a shop owner in County Londonderry has been jailed for 17 months.

Stephen Darren McGlone, 22, of Woodvale Crescent, Moneymore, punched Brij Brushan Sharma once in April 2004.

Mr Sharma fell and fractured his skull on the road. The 37-year-old, who had been visiting his girlfriend in the town, died in hospital two days later.

His brother said he was disappointed at the sentence and that the case was not considered "racially motivated".

Speaking afterwards, Bharat Sharma said that while no sentence could bring back his brother, "the system failed not only us, his family, but our brother and his memory".

McGlone's 27-year-old brother Mark from Rockview Park in the town admitted later causing criminal damage to Mr Sharma's car and to attempting to intimidate his girlfriend.

Bharat Sharma
Bharat Sharma said his family felt let down by the legal system
He was freed when he agreed to carry out 100 hours of community service.

Newry Crown Court had heard that Mr Sharma, a father of two who ran a newsagents on Limestone Road in north Belfast, had been visiting his girlfriend in the County Tyrone town at the time.

A prosecuting lawyer said it appeared that Mr Sharma and the McGlone brothers had "squared up" before he was punched only once.

He said the brothers then helped carry an unconscious Mr Sharma back into his girlfriend's home. At the time, no-one realised the extent of the seriousness of his injuries, he added.

The lawyer said that while Mark McGlone had later uttered an ethnic slur about Mr Sharma, the prosecution could not make the case that the assault had been racially motivated.

'Not anticipated'

A defence barrister said Stephen McGlone had never intended to harm Mr Sharma and his death was not anticipated and "caused by the fact that the deceased fell".

He added that McGlone was "not only remorseful, but had shown that remorse from a very early stage".

A defence lawyer for McGlone's brother Mark said his role "in this very tragic event" was his mere presence at the scene rather than any active involvement. He added that in his case also, "drink was a major factor".

In sentencing the brothers, Mr Justice Morgan said it was a tragic case with dreadful consequences, but there was nothing to suggest any kind of racial motivation.

The judge said a single unpremeditated blow had been struck and that the manner of Mr Sharma's death was completely unforeseen.


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