Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Devlin killer gets extra year in jail after escape bid

Thomas Devlin
Thomas Devlin

A notorious and remorseless killer who is currently serving a minimum of 30 years in jail for knifing a teenager to death has been jailed for another year for trying to escape lawful custody.

Appearing in the dock of Court 11 at Belfast Crown Court, the same dock he stood in to be convicted of murdering schoolboy Thomas Devlin (15), killer Gary Taylor (26) confirmed his name and then pleaded guilty to trying to escape lawful custody and two counts of assaulting two prison officers on January 3 last year.

No facts were opened officially to the court and no reports were ordered given Taylor's most recent conviction, but it is understood the charge relates to the murderer trying to escape after being taken to hospital, lashing out at two officers in the process.

Sentencing Taylor, who is originally from Mount Vernon in north Belfast but whose address on the papers was given as c/o Maghaberry Prison, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland ordered that he serve the 12-month sentence consecutively to his life term.

Although defence lawyer Mark Farrell submitted that was an incorrect approach to the case, Judge McFarland told him bluntly: "You can appeal me if you want.

"He has to be punished for this, so on the expiry of the term he is to serve another year," said the judge, adding that if Mr Farrell was correct, "that means he can try to escape every day and he doesn't get punished for it".

Thomas was knifed to death near his north Belfast home while out buying sweets and drinks with friends on a warm summer evening in August 2005.

Having stalked their victims, Taylor and co-accused Nigel Brown (29) launched their attack on the Somerton Road.

Thomas suffered multiple stab wounds to the chest, abdomen, right upper arm, hip and face while his friend, Jonathan McKee, was also attacked and stabbed. Brown's tariff of 22 years was reduced to 20 years at the High Court on Thursday, but the Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan upheld Taylor's sentence, one of the longest ever handed down by a Northern Ireland court.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan pointed out that Taylor had gone out armed with a knife intent on carrying out a random and motiveless killing.

"Murders on such a basis naturally strike fear in the minds of those within the local community because such conduct is the mark of the serial killer," he said.

Dealing on Thursday with the sentences imposed on them, Sir Declan detailed the pair's history of violent crime.

Brown has a total of 72 convictions including multiple counts of assault on police, riotous behaviour, possession of offensive wea-pons, assault and drugs offences.

Taylor's record includes entries for rioting, assault, disorderly behaviour and affray.

Sir Declan, who heard the case with Lord Justices Higgins and Girvan, stressed the impact of the knife attack on Thomas's parents and the boys who survived it.

"For all of them, the consequences of that night have been life-changing and enduring," he said.

The emotional impacts and the effects on the mental health of the Devlin family have been "profound and devastating".

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