Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Let's all hope this broken family can find some peace

To say that the Rebecca McKeown case is a tragedy is an understatement of the greatest magnitude. Every single aspect of the nightmare the child's family have endured has been unspeakable.

Two entirely innocent grandparents have been put through the hellish ordeal of being accused of the little girl's death - and by sex assault too, that vilest of accusations.

Rebecca's family have been torn apart. Her entirely innocent brother was forced to take the stand. He had previously been questioned about his sister's killing.

Rebecca's poor mother who had gone through God knows what agonies imagining how her little girl died and who to blame, collapsed at the end of the trial.

But it is the image of that dignified, elderly couple leaving court that haunts most. David and Sarah Johnston both in their late 80s have had this hanging over them for 11 years.

They have been driven from their home, abused, tormented. They couldn't even get a taxi to take them to court each day such was the vilification.

And yet at the end of it all when the judge acquitted them, when he signalled that their ordeal was finally over, the gentlemanly Mr Johnston's response was a quiet "Thank you very much."

Why was this case ever taken? Who should answer for what has happened?

There may be more than one party at fault. But somebody has to pay for this.

For now though our thoughts should be with all the members of this broken family - and with the hope, however fragile, that somehow they can come together again after an ordeal that truly defies belief.

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