28 April 2006

Petition demands Megan's murderer is never released

Belfast Telegraph

By Claire Regan
28 April 2006

The devastated family of a 16-year-old Belfast girl brutally raped and murdered has launched a passionate campaign to ensure her killer is never freed.

Close relatives of Megan McAlorum have taken to the streets of Belfast to collect signatures and petitions of support which they intend to give to the judge who will be sentencing the teenager's evil killer.

The family hope the initiative will highlight the family's fears that 19-year-old Thomas Purcell may one day be freed to rape and kill again. The Belfast man pleaded guilty to murdering young Megan at Craigavon Crown Court earlier this week and will be sentenced on May 26.

The 16-year-old's semi-naked body was found on a desolate stretch of land in a forested area close to the Glenside Road in Dunmurry on April 12 2004. She had been raped by Purcell and suffered head injuries so severe they were similar to what would be expected in someone who had fallen head-first from a four-storey building.

Megan's parents, Frankie and Margaret McAlorum, have urged the judge responsible to give him a life sentence and ensure that "life means life".

The youngster's 27-year-old twin sisters, Lynn Sutcu and Paula McAlorum, began gathering petitions yesterday afternoon at two shopping centres in west Belfast.

They will bring the campaign to Belfast city centre on Saturday and urged any shoppers who spot them to sign a petition. The sisters are being helped by friend Siobhan Keenan and aunt Geraldine McGoran.

Speaking from the Westwood Centre yesterday afternoon, where they gathered petitions before going to the Park Centre, Mrs Sutcu said: "We've been getting loads of support from people. We've already got hundreds of signatures.

"We are hoping that the city centre will be bunged with people on Saturday and we want to gather as much support as possible.

"It's very important to get a message out that Purcell should not be allowed to see freedom ever again."

Megan's mother also urged people to show their support for the petition campaign.

"We are terrified that the courts will show him leniency because he pleaded guilty. He didn't do it to save us going through a trial; he did it to save his own skin," she said.

"We are urging the judge to make sure Purcell is never free to walk the streets again.

"It's important to us to send a message to the judge that life should mean life."

Speaking earlier this week at their Glencolin Way home in west Belfast, Mr and Mrs McAlorum revealed the brutal death their much-loved child had suffered at the hands of Purcell.

They told about the desperate measures Purcell undertook to cover his crime, included bringing two young female relatives, thought to be aged 12 and 14, to the ditch where he had dumped the body and pretending to find it.

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