Sunday Life


By Pauline Reynolds
22 January 2005

Little Denise Givens was just 11-years-old, and out riding her bike on a lovely summer's evening, when lunatic speed-killer, Gareth Collins, ploughed into her.

And, last night, her grieving parents insisted: "It was murder - nothing short of murder."

Yet, maniac Collins - who mowed Denise down 200 yards from her Co Antrim home - was handed just FOUR-AND-A-HALF-YEARS by a judge.

A lenient sentence, you might think, for a thug who already had a string of FIFTY-SIX traffic offences - and has never even passed the driving test.

Denise's heartbroken parents, Hugh and Evelyn, were appalled at the punishment.

But, they are further devastated at the refusal of the Attorney-General to review Collins' case.

Collins (31), with an address at Twinbrook, pleaded guilty in Antrim Crown Court, last December, to causing the schoolgirl's death by dangerous driving.

At the time Denise was killed, the crime carried a maximum penalty of 10 years - which has since been increased to 14.

But, that still wouldn't be long enough for her heartbroken family.

"That scum took the life of a great wee 11-year-old girl, who we all loved, and he should be punished for life," said Hugh, fighting back tears.

"Why should we have to suffer, while he's probably laughing at us from his prison cell, knowing he got away with it.

"We're gutted, totally disgusted.

"I go down to my wee babby's grave and just cry and cry, because it hurts so much to have lost her, and to know she hasn't got justice.

"We are so lonely, and the house has lost its laughter and fun without her.

"She used to sit with me on the sofa and ask when mummy was coming home from work, and put her arms around me.

"It's those wee things I miss so much."

Denise was Hugh and Evelyn's youngest of seven children, a little girl who was simply adored by all who knew her.

She loved her bike, and was cycling along the road to meet a young pal, who lived about three quarters of a mile from her home, on the Seven Mile Straight, when she was killed.

Denise had only travelled about 200 yards, when maniac driver Collins hit her at a speed of 73mph.

At his trial, Judge David Smyth, said: "In my view, what you did was that you saw a young cyclist and, instead of moderating your speed, you decided you could overtake her at the speed you were doing.

"This was not a miscalculation, but a grave error of judgment, and a conscious decision by you."

The judge had said he would take Collins' guilty plea into consideration when passing sentence.

Evelyn was appalled by this.

"What sort of signal does it send out, when it looks like five-and-a-half years was taken off his sentence just because he admitted the offence?"


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