Long sentences for loyalist child killers
Long sentences for loyalist child killers

The loyalist killers of 15-year-old Thomas Devlin were described as having “deeply ingrained sectarian attitudes” towards Catholics by the judge as he sentenced them to a minimum of 30 years and 22 years respectively.

Gary Taylor and his accomplice Nigel Brown were convicted of murdering Thomas in August 2005 in what the judge, Richard McLaughlin, said was “a horrifying, brutal attack”.

Thomas and his friends were targeted by the pair, both in their mid-twenties, as they walked home along Somerton Road in the north of the city.

Taylor, who wielded the knife during the attack, will serve his sentence on the loyalist wIng of Maghaberry Prison after beIng identified as being aligned to the southeast Antrim UDA.

Meanwhile, Thomas’s parents have agaIn called for an overhaul of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) after they had to fight to get their son’s killers before a court.

“It Is time for a review of the PPS and the way that they work, Penny Holloway. his mother said.

Her husband, Jim Devlin, said he was “quite convinced this trial wouldn’t have taken place” without family pressure. “it was definitely a lost case as far as the PPS was concerned,” he said.

Victims Commissioner Brendan McAllister was also critical of the PPS, saying the handling of the case was a “catalogue of how not to run a criminal Justice system”.

He called for a fresh Criminal Justice Inspectorate inquiry into the PPS.

Mr McAllIster said the killers’ “deeply ingrained, bitter sectarian altitudes (was a) wake-up call to all of us”.

Thomas’s friend Fintan Maguire, who managed to scramble over a wall Into the sanctuary of St Patrick’s College, said justice had been done and “for Thomas’s memory, it needed to be carried out”.

Thomas’s parents Penny Holloway and Jim Devlin said they had been “vindicated” for the stand they took in campaigning for justice.

Ms Holloway, who paid tribute to her “kind, caring, fun-loving and popular” son said: “He quite simply did not deserve to be murdered.

“Not a day goes past when we do not think of him. He is always in our thoughts and always will be.

“There is a very real sadness in us when we consider what has been taken from him. We miss him hugely and for us this will always be the case. as we face our futures without him.”

Ms Holloway thanked the trial judge, police and prosecution lawyers as well as the media for keeping the case in the spotlight and well-wishers for their support.

She paid a special tribute to Thomas’s friends Jonathan McKee and Fintan Maguire who stayed with him as he lay dying and to others who stopped to help, “for trying to save his life”.

Ms Holloway welcomed the sentences, which she said sent a “clear message from the court” that would “ensure that our streets will now be a lot safer”.

Local Sinn Fein Assembly member Gerry Kelly again praised the parents of Thomas Devlin for their campaign for justice.

“In the midst of the most crippling grief they were forced to overcome huge obstacles placed in their way by the PPS Public Prosecution Service.”

“Their tireless campaign was based on the highest possible motives of ensuring that these killers would be brought before the courts and prevented from visiting this terrible fate on another family.”

He said that since policing and justice powers had now been transferred to Belfast, the prosecution service in the North should be made accountable and ‘fit for purpose’.

“No other grieving family should ever have their distress compounded by such an obstructive system again,” he said.

“The deeply rooted sectarianism that produced these killers is sickening,” he added.

“The scourge of sectarianism has to be confronted at every opportunity by the community and we all have a responsibility to stand up against it.”

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