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Info on Facebook gives murdered teen's family new hope of justice

By Donna Deeney

Published 30/06/2015

Hazel and Raymond Cairns with a photograph of their son Jonathan, who was beaten to death in 1999
Hazel and Raymond Cairns with a photograph of their son Jonathan, who was beaten to death in 1999
Jonathan Cairns

The parents of a teenager brutally murdered and buried in a shallow grave are hoping new information published on Facebook could lead police to their son's killers.

The Facebook page - Justice For Jonathan Cairns - was set up only last month.

After a meeting with police yesterday, Raymond and Hazel Cairns are hopeful that, more than 16 years after his death, the killers of their son might yet be brought to justice.

Jonathan's body was found stripped and bound in a remote spot in Loughermore Forest, near Ballykelly village, in April 1999 the day after he went missing following a night out.

He had been beaten to death on waste ground 15 metres from his parents' home.

The 18-year-old's blood-soaked clothes were found on the steps of a school near the family home but, despite a huge police hunt at the time and the offer of a £30,000 reward, no one was ever charged with his murder.

One man was convicted for perverting the course of justice and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Mr Cairns said: "We had a long meeting with Chief Inspector John McVea about the investigation and he told us there are a number of new lines of inquiry and they have information now that they didn't have before.

"He told us he couldn't go into details, which we fully understood, but it does give you a bit of hope, although, at the same time, we are scared to pin too much faith on it because we could still be disappointed.

"We don't really understand how Facebook works but the page set up by Jonathan's friends has brought everything back to the public attention, which is good.

"All we need is for a small bit of new information that leads the police to Jonathan's killers, and maybe this new information will do just that." Detective Chief Inspector McVea, who is leading the investigation, said: "The meeting was to give the family a progress report on police enquiries.

"We understand their desire to see justice for Jonathan and we are committed to doing all in our power to apprehend those involved in this brutal incident. We are aware of the Justice For Jonathan Facebook campaign and that a number of people have posted comments.

"We will be following some new lines of enquiry in the coming weeks.

"I would encourage anyone who has seen the site and feels they have information to contact the enquiry team at Seapark police station directly on the 101 non-emergency number."

The Justice for Jonathan Cairns Facebook page has attracted almost 5,000 'likes' since it was set up.

Philip McGroarty was jailed in 2002 in connection with the murder.

McGroarty, from Ballykelly, was given a five-year sentence for helping to dispose of Jonathan's body.

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