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Sister of IRA murder victim Winston Cross left outraged by the 'hero's send-off' for Martin McGuinness

By Leona O'Neill

The sister of a teenager murdered by the IRA and dumped on a roadside in the 1970s has said she felt "sick and outraged" at the funeral Martin McGuinness received last week.

Sharon Austin's brother Winston Cross was just 18 when he was shot dead alongside friend Bert Slater (29) after being abducted from a bar in Donegal on a night out.

Winston was out celebrating joining the Army that day. The pals were tortured for three days before being hooded, shot in the head and dumped on a desolate roadside on Sheriff's Mountain, near Creggan.

Sharon, who still lives in Londonderry, says her family were totally destroyed by the killing.

"Winston was only a child when he was murdered," she said.

"He was my big brother. He was a happy-go-lucky young man and a real Mummy's boy.

"He would have bought my mother a bar of Milk Tray chocolate every Thursday on pay day.

"He wouldn't have had a bad word to say about anyone.

"And we believe that might have been his problem. He was too trusting.

"My mother and father had been out looking for him for two days and nights after he didn't come home. They were frantic. Then the call came through that bodies had been found on the mountain.

"I was only 11 years old, but I knew it was him.

"The day his body was found is the day he was to join the British Army.

"He didn't even get to wear the uniform."

Sharon said that life for her family after that "was horrific".

"I always say Winston was the lucky one; he died," she said.

"We had to live through it.

"My father became an abusive and violent alcoholic and my mother became totally dependent on prescription drugs and tried to commit suicide on numerous occasions.

"People think when someone is murdered that's it, it's over.

"The aftermath was horrific. Our life was horrific.

"Winston's murder totally and utterly destroyed our lives."

Sharon said she felt "sick" when she witnessed the funeral for the former Deputy First Minister on Thursday.

"I cried sore when I saw Martin McGuinness' funeral," she said.

"I actually felt sick and upset and had to go to bed.

"People were acting like he was a hero.

"I was outraged that he got such a massive send-off.

"In my eyes he didn't deserve it. People clapped as his coffin passed by and he was celebrated by so many, dignitaries and politicians.

"It was really hard to watch knowing that that man and his IRA comrades took my brother away. People speaking about him were saying that the past is in the past and everyone has to move on.

"Our past is not in the past. We live this every single day.

"We have lived it every single day since Winston was murdered. It will never, ever go away.

"I cried on Thursday for my poor mother who went to her grave with no justice and no answer as to who took her son.

"I know Martin McGuinness is a husband and father and grandfather and there is a grieving family there. But he chose that life of violence. My brother didn't have a choice.

"McGuinness and his IRA comrades murdered my brother at 18 years old.

"McGuinness lived until he was 66 years old. Martin McGuinness was able to say his farewells, tell people he loved them and die peacefully in his bed.

"My mother used to torture herself asking if Winston cried out for her before he was shot. She cried sore over him, not having anyone to comfort him. He was hooded, shot and left at the side of the road like a dog."

Winston's mother Blanche died in November of last year without ever knowing who took her son from her. Sharon says the family will continue to seek justice.

"Winston would have been 60 years old last year," she added.

"He could have had his own family, lived a full life, and all of our lives could have been so very different. For his 60th birthday there were no cards. Just a flower on his grave."

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