19 February 2006

Murder grief still haunts family


Thomas Devlin was murdered as he walked home from a sweet shop

The mother of a teenager killed in a street attack near his north Belfast home last year has said they are still struggling to come to terms with it.

Thomas Devlin, 15, died after being stabbed five times as he and two friends walked along Somerton Road.

His family launched a fund in his memory on Friday.

His mother, Penny Holloway, said the support of Thomas' friends had helped keep them going, but that someone must know who stabbed him.

His family has said money raised for the fund would be used to provide education bursaries to help secure a peaceful future for Thomas's generation.

A sculpture dedicated to non-violence will also be erected in his name.

No-one has been charged in connection with his killing, although a number of people have been questioned.

Ms Holloway said there was another family who knew who had killed her son.

"They have more than a suspicion, they have knowledge of what happened that night," she said.

"We would like to see them pass that knowledge on to police, because the people that killed Thomas are very dangerous and very violent.

"Both ourselves and the police feel that they have the capacity to kill somebody else."

Ms Holloway said that the joy he had brought to the lives of her and her husband, Jim Devlin, was what had kept them going since his death.

"We believe it is time that the older generation, our generation, really did our best to make the future secure for Thomas' generation."
Penny Holloway

"If one had read all the notes that were left by his friends at the site where he was killed you would have seen just what they thought of him," she said.

"He was caring, fun to be with, very popular and he does seem to have supported a lot of them."

Thomas, a student at Belfast Royal Academy, was a talented musician who played the horn at school.

He had just bought sweets from a nearby shop on 10 August and was on his way home when he was stabbed in the back.

His 18-year-old friend was injured in the attack, but not seriously. A 16-year-old boy managed to escape.

Ms Holloway said Thomas had been part of a generation that was shedding the "baggage" of the past.

"We feel that Thomas was of a generation that had really lost the baggage that previous generations had," she said.

"This new generation had really grown up through the peace-time, since the Good Friday Agreement and the ceasefire of ten years ago.

"They all used to congregate around the city hall, because that's a neutral environment for they really couldn't care what school people went to, what names they had, whether they could say haitch or aitch - it really was irrelevant to them.

"So we believe it is time that the older generation, our generation, really did our best to make the future secure for Thomas' generation.

"That is really the focus of the trust that we are going to be setting up."

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