Northern Ireland

Harry Holland: Family 'let down' as killer eligible for pre-release scheme

Harry Holland died after being stabbed in the head with a screwdriver
Image caption Harry Holland was stabbed outside his shop in west Belfast

The family of a murdered Belfast man say they feel let down by the judicial system after news that his killer is being prepared for release from jail.

Stephen McKee, now 25, was jailed for murdering west Belfast greengrocer Harry Holland in September 2007.

The 65-year-old was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver near his Norfolk Drive home.

McKee, who pleaded guilty, was told he would serve at least 12 years of a life sentence for the murder of Mr Holland.

However, he is now eligible for a pre-release scheme designed to prepare prisoners for full release back into the community.

"Our family have been completely let down by the justice system in every way possible - from the sentencing, right through to this bombshell being dropped on us now that he's going to be out after serving just nine years," said Mr Holland's daughter, Grainne.

"I have absolutely no faith in the justice system here, none whatsoever."

'Bolt out of the blue'

Mr Holland's daughter, Sarah, said the Probation Service advised the family that McKee was eligible for the pre release scheme two weeks ago.

Image caption Mr Holland's daughters Gail, GrĂ¡inne and Sarah described the pain caused to the family

She said that news was like "a bolt out of the blue".

"To be honest it was a bit of a shock," she said.

"He is a violent and dangerous individual. They need to seriously consider letting him back into this community again and certainly consider not letting him near our family.

"I believe in second chances. This is a man who is on a fifth, sixth, seventh chance."

'No remorse'

Ms Holland's sister, GrĂ¡inne, said McKee had never shown any remorse for killing her father.

Image caption Flowers outside Mr Holland's grocery shop after the murder

"I really believe in my heart he's not rehabilitated - he's not sorry and he should not be allowed back into this community," she said.

"The fact that his murderers have never said sorry and just don't care hurts even more.

"Then we're told that we have to accept the fact that after serving just nine years he could be back on the streets - where's the justice in that?

Image caption The sisters described their father as the rock of the family

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