21 May 2006

Thomas Devlin family: Lessons in Pain

Sunday Life

By Stephen Breen
21 May 2006

The parents of murdered teenager Thomas Devlin are planning to visit Ulster schools to warn kids about the dangers of knives.

Thomas's grieving parents, Jim and Penny, believe the move may help police combat the growing problem of knife culture in Northern Ireland.

We understand the initiative would involve the 15-year-old stab victim's mum and dad talking to pupils about the devastating impact their son's murder has had on their lives.

Said Penny: "There is a lot of youth violence at the moment and we just want to do our best to highlight the dangers of knives in our society.

"Nothing has been decided yet, but we have thought about taking our message to kids in schools.

"We are looking into holding workshops in schools.

"The aim of the Thomas Devlin Fund is to promote public awareness about the impact of gratuitous violence against young people and one way we could this is by going directly to the children.

"I think it could be a very effective way of getting the message about the dangers of knives across to young people."

Latest police figures show that violent knife crime has risen by 13pc over the last six months, with 79 separate knife attacks.

The Devlin's plan comes after we revealed last month how police are expected to reveal details of a major province-wide anti-knife campaign.

It is understood the horrific nature of Thomas's death prompted senior cops to launch the television, radio and newspaper campaign.

Thomas was viciously stabbed five times in the back as he walked with friends, close to his home on the Somerton Road, north Belfast, last August.

Although details of the new campaign have yet to be completed, an announcement is expected to be made over the coming weeks.

One of the senior police officers who is helping to organise the campaign is Detective Superintendent Alan Mains.

This latest development comes after Sunday Life offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the teenager's killers.

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