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BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro
Savage had been involved in car theft since he was 13.
 real 28k

Jason Watson talks to the BBC
"Tyler has made a miraculous recovery from his injuries"
 real 28k

Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 19:49 GMT 20:49 UK
Joyrider had 100 previous convictions
Scene of collisison between stolen car and the Watson's vehicle
Three people were killed in the fatal crash
A car thief who was jailed for causing three deaths due to dangerous driving had a catalogue of convictions for similar offences.

Desmond Patrick Savage was sentenced to eight years imprisonment by Judge David Smyth at a court hearing in Ballymena on Wednesday.

Charmaine Watson, 27, was killed instantly in a head-on collision with the stolen car driven by Savage at Ballymoney in County Antrim last July.

Her husband, Justin, 24, died later in hospital. The couple's three-year-old son, Tyler, was left fighting for his life in hospital.

Brian Donnelly, 20, a front seat passenger in the stolen Vauxhall Cavalier, also died in the collision.

The convicted man had amassed more than 100 convictions for offences including car theft, breaking and entering and traffic crimes

Savage, 24, was first convicted at the age of 13 for criminal damage but this was quickly followed by a conviction for allowing himself to be carried in a stolen car.

West Belfast MP Gerry Adams joined calls for stiffer sentencing and more effective measures to divert young people from car related crime.

The dead couple's son Tyler Watson
The dead couple's son Tyler
"What needs to be put in place are outreach programmes and programmes which empower the community," said Mr Adams.

"We should also remind ourselves that these people are in a very small mionority."

Earlier, the uncle of Tyler Watson who was orphaned in a car crash had criticised the sentence given to Savage.

But Jason Watson, the brother of Justin, said the sentence was not long enough.

"Basically I thought eight years was a joke - eight years doesn't make up for the loss of two lives, three lives if you count Brian Donnelly," he said.

"More importantly on my part, is Justine and Charmaine's lives and the fact that young Tyler was almost killed too.

"I don't really think any sentence would have made any difference."

However, Mr Watson, who now cares for Tyler and his sister Connie, said he understood the judge's hands had been tied over the maximum sentence.

Brother of crash victim
Jason Watson: Thought eight years was "a joke"
He said Tyler had made a "miraculous recovery" from his injuries.

"He still has a bit of a limp on the leg he broke," he added.

Mr Watson said the child had talked to him and his wife about the accident.

"In my opinion he remembers everything," he said.

"Some of the stories he has told us...things that he has seen and things that happened after the accident.

"He had a good understanding of what was going on.

"He knows he's never going to see his mummy and daddy again."

Mr Watson said it was difficult, at times, for himself and the children, particularly approaching the first anniversary of the couple's deaths.

"It is hard. Sometimes the two kids get really upset, the smallest thing will trigger them off, " he said.

Outside the court on Wednesday, the mother of Brian Donnelly said Savage should have been given the maximum sentence.

She also said that the judge should have have ordered that the convicted man be given psychiatric help and placed in care on his release.

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See also:

10 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Warning over RUC reform bill
27 Jul 99 | Northern Ireland
Heartbreak of joyrider's mother after crash
28 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
Joyrider jailed for crash deaths
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