Barbaric killers of Ulster schoolboy Thomas Devlin jailed
The two men convicted of the sadistic and barbaric murder of schoolboy Thomas Devlin were today ordered to spend a minimum of 52 years between them behind bars.
Ordering that knife man Gary Taylor (23) serves a minimum of 30 years and his accomplice 26-year-old Nigel Brown to serve at least 22 of their life sentences, Belfast Crown Court judge Mr Justice McLaughlin told the murderous pair they had launched a "horrifying and brutal attack upon utterly deenceless and harmless boys".
At the end of a six week trial last February, the north Belfast men, from Mountcollyer Avenue and the Whitewell Road respectively, were unanimously convicted of murdering 15-year-old Thomas and trying to murder his friend Jonathan McKee on August 10 2005.
During the trial the jury, three of whom were present today (tues) to hear the final conclusion of the case, heard how Taylor and Brown set out that fateful night intent on attacking anyone they happened to come across on the mainly Catholic Somerton Road.
Within 20 minutes of leaving the Ross House block of flats in Mount vernon where the pair lived at the time, they had spotted their victims Thomas and Jonathan and their friend Fintan Maguire who were walking home from the shop after buying sweets.
In an unprovoked frenzy, Brown first used his baton to beat Jonathan around the head and shoulders while Catholic hating Taylor ran forward to drag Thomas down from the wall of a school he was trying to scramble over in a desparate bid for safety.
Lashing out at him with a knife, Taylor stabbed the teenager nine times, stabbing him in the arm and back, causing such massive internal bleeding that he died within minutes but not content with that, Taylor then turned his attentions to Jonathan, stabbing him once in the gut as he went to help his stricken friend.
The jury heard he would most probably have suffered the same fate as Thomas if he had not been carrying Thomas's rucksack which took the brunt of further blows from the lethal knife before the pair casually sauntered off up the road leaving a scene of blood and devastation behind them.
During their five week trial earlier this year, the court heard that Brown confessed to his stepfather that he had been involved in an argument with the three teenage friends and saw Taylor stab the schoolboy "in a frenzy".
But Brown also claimed that when they both left their then homes in Ross House in the loyalist Mount Vernon flats complex to walk a dog, he had no idea that Taylor had armed himself with a knife.
However a prosecution lawyer maintained that their intentions that night were "crystal clear", to find "soft targets" after going out together "tooled up".