Belfast Telegraph

Villagers may hold key to teen’s 1999 murder, say police

By Anna Maguire

Police investigating the murder of a teenager have said people in the Co Londonderry village where he lived may know why he was killed.

Jonathan Cairns (18) was walking home from a night out in Ballykelly when he was set upon and beaten to death on waste ground 15 metres from his parents’ home.

An investigation into the unsolved murder — which happened shortly after 2am on April 25, 1999 — reopened last week following a review.

Issuing a fresh appeal, Detective Chief Inspector John McVea, who is heading the investigation, said that allegiances in place at the time of the murder may no longer exist.

“Ballykelly is the type of place where everybody knows everybody and people who lived there at the time continue to live there,” he said. “This is simply about the right thing for people to do. I’m aware, for people who have the information, that it can be a burden for them.

“This was a horrifically violent murder and the person or persons who committed it need to be brought to justice.”

Jonathan’s mother, Hazel Cairns (60), said the family cannot move on with their lives.

“I’m sure there is ones that know what is going on, but no-one has come forward yet,” she said.

“I would say to them, try and come forward to somebody they think they can talk to.

“Thirteen years is a brave span. People who were there then maybe now have children of their own, and maybe now they would think about coming forward.

“We are just sitting here waiting to see why they did it, and each day is the same.”

The teenager's body was found in a shallow grave in Loughermore Forest, near his home, the day after he was killed.

DCI McVea added: “We are focusing on two males seen in the area where Jonathan was murdered. At 2am two males were seen standing in the area of waste ground where Jonathan was murdered.

“I believe the killers knew him. The reason why someone who knew Jonathan inflicted such injuries is the key to this murder.”

Police have asked anyone with information to contact detectives at North Queen Street station.

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