13 August 2005

Killing ‘sectarian’

Daily Ireland

by Ciarán Barnes

The PSNI was coming under increased pressure last night to state whether it believes the murder of a 15-year-old Catholic schoolboy in Belfast was sectarian.
Thomas Devlin died on Wednesday night after being stabbed five times in the back as he walked along the Somerton Road with two friends.
So far the PSNI has insisted there is nothing to indicate that his killing was sectarian.
The PSNI has also refused to comment on reports that a passing patrol may have stopped the murder gang prior to the killing taking place. Detectives are currently questioning two men and a juvenile about the incident.
However, a number of loyalist sources in north Belfast have told Daily Ireland that the savage attack on the schoolboy was sectarian.
It is believed that loyalists from the nearby Mount Vernon district were involved in the murder. The names of those involved are known throughout the area.
Sinn Féin North Belfast Assemblyman Gerry Kelly called on the PSNI to state whether the murder was sectarian.
He said: “This attack bears all the hallmarks of a sectarian one. The area has witnessed a number of attacks over past months which are similar to this.”
Former SDLP mayor of Belfast, Martin Morgan, believes there was a sectarian motive for the schoolboy’s murder.
He said: “The PSNI should call this like it is, a random and nakedly sectarian murder.
“What reason would a gang of loyalists have for walking around the Somerton Road with knives, other than to carry out a killing?
“The police has a duty to keep the community informed. By not describing Thomas Devlin’s murder as sectarian they are keeping information from the public which people have a right to know.”
However a spokesman for the PSNI insisted that at this stage there is nothing to suggest a sectarian motive for the Devlin murder.
He explained that there were no sectarian phrases used during the attack on the schoolboy and two of his friends.
“This is very much a live and proactive investigation,” said the spokesman.
“All lines of enquiry are being fully explored and investigated.”
The spokesman also confirmed that detectives were examining closed-circuit television footage from a nearby service station to try to determine the identity of the teenager’s killers.
His mother, Penny Holloway, yesterday described her son as a “shining beacon” in her family’s life who would never come back.
She said: “‘Devastated’ is just too light a word for how we all feel.
“I saw him lying there with the doctors working on him and he’s just my beautiful boy, who’s gone. I just really don’t understand that.”
Thomas’ father, Jim Devlin, described what the family was going through as a “living hell”.
“We’re just totally gutted. We haven’t got him home yet but we are doing our best to keep going.
“Thomas was the next generation coming up. He was across all the divides and taken away by someone who sought otherwise,” he said.
Secretary of state Peter Hain said he was horrified by the “brutal and appalling” murder.

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