Irish Republican News · May 31, 2013
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
‘Mickey Bo’ killers’ sentences reduced


Two sectarian thugs who admitted their part in the murder of Ballymena Catholic schoolboy Michael McIlveen can expect to be free in two to four years after their retrial ended in a further reduction of their sentences.

The McIlveen family have spoken of their “disgust” at the short sentences handed down to two of the loyalist gang who clubbed the 15-year-old to death, describing it as “a final insult”.

Michael McIlveen, known locally as ‘Mickey Bo’, was struck repeatedly on the head with a baseball bat in an alley in Ballymena town centre in 2006. He died of his injuries the next day.

Aaron Wallace and Christophe Kerr had sentences of 11 and 13 years imposed on them after being convicted by a jury in 2009, considered a shockingly low sentence at the time. Those convictions were then overturned at the Court of Appeal.

Following a retrial, the pair were given sentences of eight and nine years this week. They will likely be released in two and three-and-a-half years respectively, due to time spent on remand.

The pair pleaded guilty last month after prosecution and defence lawyers agreed a statement of facts in relation to the roles they had played in the murder. More than five million pounds had been spent on the two trials before they finally admitted their guilt.

During the hearing, the stepfather of one of Michael’s killers entered the witness box to speak about Aaron Wallace’s character, prompting the McIlveen family to walk out of the courtroom.

“He talked about them losing out and not being with him [Wallace], that they want to make up the time they have missed,”, said Michael’s sister, Francine McIlveen.

“What about my mum? She’s never going to be able to make up the time with Michael.

“She can only go to see her son at a grave. She can’t do anything that a mother and son can do.

“It made us angry. He made it out like he [Wallace] was the innocent one but he took part in Michael’s murder and the only innocent out of all this was my brother.”

Straight after court yesterday mother and daughter visited Michael’s grave.


Speaking afterwards, Francie said her family was torn apart by the schoolboy’s sectarian murder in May 2006 and are still dealing with the trauma.

At 13 she was two years younger than her brother, while their eldest sibling, Jodie, was 17 and Sean, the baby of the family, only seven at the time of Michael’s violent death.

“They took something away from me, Jodie and wee Sean,” Ms McIlveen said.

“It’s destroyed us. It took all our childhood away from us.”

She said Sean, now 14, has nightmares and trouble concentrating.

“Jodie has four children and you would think they all knew Michael. They talk about him every day and it’s sad because he’s not here to do anything with them.

“They watch videos of him and it’s lovely to see them do that.

“I was 13 when Michael was murdered. I couldn’t go back to school. I was used to seeing Michael coming down the corridor or into the canteen. I tried but I couldn’t go back.”


Now aged twenty, Ms McIlveen said her mother Gina has particularly struggled to deal with her son’s death.

“She’s not the same person she was when Michael was here. It’s really different in the house not having Michael. He was always playing his music, always cheery. It’s a big loss.

“Mum and I are always up at his grave. We shouldn’t be going to a grave to see him. He should be home with us.”

Ms McIlveen said she was “sad” Wallace and Christopher Kerr had not admitted their guilt back in 2006 or at least during their first trial in 2008.

“If they had have pleaded guilty at the start at least that would have put my mum’s mind at ease. It has destroyed her, going to the trial and listening to what happened.”

She said it had been “heartbreaking” to have the men’s convictions quashed and a retrial ordered.

“It brought everything from the start all back up again.”

The family are also angry at the low sentences given to the two Ballymena men yesterday, which Ms McIlveen branded “a disgrace”.

“They took Michael’s life at 15 and they haven’t been given a sentence the same length as the time he lived.

“Because they took his life they should serve life.”

The family have found it difficult to watch Michael’s friends grow into young men who enjoy full lives. But Ms McIlveen said there is some comfort in it because “most of them have wee families and some of them are calling their wee ones Michael”.

“That’s nice. We know he won’t ever be forgotten.”

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© 2013 Irish Republican News