18 December 2005

Devlin family: Our pain is very deep'

Sunday Life

By Stephen Breen
18 December 2005

THE grieving parents of murdered teenager Thomas Devlin last night issued a special Christmas plea for anyone with information on the brutal killing to come forward.

Thomas's heartbroken mum and dad, Jim and Penny, spoke to Sunday Life about their pain and torment from their home, in Somerton Road, north Belfast.

And the Belfast Royal Academy pupil's parents have appealed directly to the partners, friends and relatives of the evil killers to provide police with the vital clues that could put the murderers behind bars.

Said Jim: "Our pain is very real and very deep and anyone who has lost a child will tell you this.

"Thomas was a gift to us, but an evil killer has taken this away from us.

"I appreciate there may be people out there who know who was responsible for killing an innocent child, but are living of fear of such a violent man.

"But any person - no matter how close they are to these people - who stood up to be counted against a child-killer would be a hero in our eyes."

Added Jim: "We want justice for our son, but people have to remember the person who murdered Thomas will no doubt have the capacity to rob someone else of an innocent child.

"At this time of year, I would plead with anyone who knows anything - no matter how insignificant they think it may be - to contact police immediately."

The popular 15-year-old died in August, after he was stabbed five times in the back as he walked along Somerton Road in north Belfast with pals.

The teenager's young friend was also seriously injured in the horrific and unprovoked attack.

Although a number of people were questioned about his murder, no one has been charged.

Thomas's mum, Penny, spoke of her heartache at her family having to spend Christmas without him.

She said: "There's no doubt Christmas will be very difficult for our family.

"Thomas loved Christmas - he would have had a long list of presents he wanted.

"I would just ask anyone who is sitting down with the killers at Christmas, and they know what they have done, to think of us and how we are feeling.

"I hope goodness will come to the fore at this time of year."

She added: "People need to bear in mind just how violent the attack on Thomas and his friend was. Whoever did this crept up behind two kids with the intention of killing them.

"It is also a very difficult time for my other children, Megan and James, because they are coming home and their brother is not here."

"Thomas was the future of this society - part of a new generation that had no interest in religion or division.

"The killer could do this to his next-door neighbour and that's why we want to see him behind bars.

"How could anyone take a gift from, or give a gift to, someone - knowing what they have done to an innocent child?"

The detective leading the hunt for the killers, DCI Ian Gilchrist, also appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

He said: "The investigation is progressing well, and we would like nothing more than to bring the killer or killers before the courts.

"The people who did this may be violent to those around them and we would urge anyone with information to come forward immediately so we can try and bring some closure to the Devlin family."

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