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Thomas Devlin accused ‘confessed his part in murder to stepfather’

A man accused of murdering schoolboy Thomas Devlin allegedly confessed to his stepfather that he had been involved in the brutal attack.

Nigel James Brown (26), from Whitewell Road in north Belfast, is also claimed to have told his stepfather that he saw his co-accused, north Belfast man Gary Taylor (23), from Mountcollyer Avenue, stab 15-year-old Thomas in a “frenzy”.

Belfast Crown Court heard that details of Brown’s alleged involvement in the August 2005 attack became known to police after his stepfather David Crozier confided in his police officer brother, Constable Norman Crozier.

Giving evidence to the court, Constable Crozier, who has since retired, said his brother contacted him a number of weeks after the murder asking for advice.

The court heard that David Crozier told his brother that Brown “broke down” in what he thought was remorse and confessed to him that on the night of the killing he was out walking his dog with Taylor when they got into a verbal confrontation with a group of teens and children at Somerton Road.

Brown allegedly told David Crozier that the confrontation turned into a fight and that he had punched and kicked several youths before turning to see Taylor stabbing one of them.

Constable Crozier said that he informed his superiors in the PSNI about what he had been told. He said that he had told his brother to advise Brown to hand himself in. However, Brown had allegedly been too afraid to contact police as he feared for his safety and that of his family if he did.

“They were living in an area controlled by sinister people. They live in an area were touts are frowned upon. He did not want to come forward for fear of reprisals,” Constable Crozier said.

Despite the ‘hearsay evidence', trial judge Mr Justice McLaughlin warned the jury that while the alleged confession might be evidence against Brown, it could in no way be taken as evidence of Taylor's alleged involvement.

Taylor and Brown’s violent pasts were also revealed to the court after the judge agreed that bad character evidence could be used.

A Crown barrister told the jury that in 2004 Brown and Taylor both pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and affray. The court also heard that in January 2007 Taylor punched a police officer in the face, then punched, kicked and bit a second officer as they tried to intervene in disorder between Taylor and another man at a filling station on the Shore Road. At hearing.

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