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Devlin accused refused alibi by pals

By Deborah McAleese

Two friends of one of the alleged killers of schoolboy Thomas Devlin refused to give him an alibi, a court has heard.

When questioned by police about his whereabouts on the night the 15-year-old was stabbed to death close to his north Belfast home, Gary Ryan Taylor (23) told police he had been smoking cannabis with two friends at a car park.

However, Detective Constable Philip Kinnear told Belfast Crown Court yesterday that when he quizzed Taylor’s two friends, “neither were prepared to make a statement in support of this alibi”.

During police interview, Taylor told officers he had been in a car with his friends at Loughside car park at around 11.30pm on the night of the attack Taylor and 26 year-old Nigel Brown are accused of murdering Thomas as he walked home with friend’s after buying sweets at a nearby garage on August 10, 2005.

Thomas died after being stabbed several times in the back as he tried to run away from his attackers. His friend Jonathan McKee was stabbed in the abdomen and hit on the head with a wooden baton.

Both deny killing the teenager and attempting to murder Mr McKee. Brown pleaded guilty last year to attempting to inflict grievous bodily harm on Mr McKee.

At the time of the murder, Taylor, from Mountcollyer Avenue, and Brown, from the Whitewell Road, both in north Belfast, were living in the notoriously loyalist Mount Vernon estate, historically controlled by paramilitaries. Yesterday the court was told by Detective Constable John Kitchen that paramilitaries were not involved in the murder.

Defence barrister Arthur Harvey QC said that paramilitary organisations would however seek to exercise power and control, putting pressure on people not to come forward to police with information.

The jury heard that two days after the trial started in January 12, police visited Brown’s mother to tell her they had received an anonymous phone call threatening her and warning her son not to give evidence.

Detective Superintendent Tim Hanley, the Senior Investigating Officer in the case, told the court the caller threatened that she would “probably be attacked in her home” and that the attackers “intended to cause her severe facial injuries”.

At hearing.

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