Minister under fire over letter

A GOVERNMENT minister was under fire last night after telling a mum who nearly lost her son in a vicious stabbing incident that the trauma “will fade in time”.

Daryl Stevens, 17, was told he was just a millimetre from death after Cameron Ross, of Ocean View, Blackhall, stabbed him in the head, neck and face with a broken bottle, outside a fish shop in Catcote Road, Hartlepool, in April this year.

The case was brought up in Parliament last night by Hartlepool MP Iain Wright who hit out over the way it was dealt with.

Ross, who was 18 at the time, was given what Mr Wright described as “the lowest possible sentence” of just three years behind bars after pleading guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Daryl’s mum, Jackie, of Oxford Road, in Hartlepool, was outraged at the time and told the Mail the sentence was “ridiculously lenient”.

And her anger intensified after she sent a letter of protest to Solicitor General Edward Garnier and received what she described as a “callous, insensitive and patronising” reply.

In rejecting a call to refer the case to the Court of Appeal, Mr Garnier wrote: “The hours you spent in the hospital waiting for news must have been dreadful, but I am sure the trauma of that terrible experience will fade in time.”

Mr Garnier faced criticism last night as Hartlepool MP Iain Wright spoke out during Commons debate to argue that the sentence was lenient and should have been reviewed.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Wright said: “I raise the comments in the House tonight not to cause embarrassment to the Solicitor General, but to point out to him that the short letter to Mrs Stevens – to the point of callousness and abruptness in her view – and that particular comment, which she felt to be insensitive and patronising, reinforced her view that nobody was listening to her concerns.”

Mr Wright said despite the fact Ross had a history of violence and he stabbed Mr Stevens in what appeared to be an unprovoked attack, he was still given the lowest possible sentence for the crime.

He added: “This case has had significant repercussions for the family of the victim, Mr Daryl Stevens, and particularly his mother, Mrs Jacqueline Stevens, who has worked tirelessly on Daryl’s behalf to secure justice for her son.”

But Mr Garnier said that sentences will not be increased unless they are significantly below what a judge should have passed.

He added that nothing he had said or written was “intended to underestimate the impace upon Daryl Stevens or his mother”, but he didn’t apologise for his reply.