Belfast Telegraph


My son fell in with the devil

CALL it a mother's instinct, but Jill Haggan immediately noticed the

change in her son.

change in her son.

Overnight the happy-go- lucky teenager turned fretful and nervous, his normally cheerful features becoming dark and drawn.

Remarkably, Mrs Haggan suspected from the outset that the change in his personality had something to do with the brutal murder of 15-year-old schoolboy, Gavin Malcolm.

The killing in April, 1994, had shocked everyone in Lurgan and she was convinced her son had "seen something" on the way home but was too afraid of reprisals to talk about it.

A week later, however, when police knocked on the door of the family home he finally broke his silence. What he told them changed his family's life forever.

Glen Haggan, then 17, confessed he had been one of a gang of youths who had set upon Gavin as he walked home, assaulting then throwing him from the fourth floor of a block of flats.

Today his mother says quietly: "Glen was glad to talk. He could not live with what had happened. I honestly believe it was a relief to him when he was arrested.

"He never denied his part. Afterwards I think he just could not believe he had been involved in it. Glen had no police record. He was not brought up that way."

Haggan pleaded guilty to murder by common purpose _ a charge whereby he admitted he was present at the time of the killing _ and was given an indefinite jail term.

Shortly after he was sentenced, investigating officers asked him whether he would turn Queen's Evidence against the other three men involved.

"We discussed it for a short while but Glen wanted to do it straight away. He is so full of remorse and I think he thought it was the least he could do for the Malcolm family.

"I suppose in some tiny way he thought this might make something up to them."

The family fully supported his decision even though Mrs Haggan claims they subsequently became the victims of a terrifying intimidation campaign.

"Certain people did everything in their power to try and make Glen not give evidence.

"Weeks before the trial began shots were fired at our home and we have had to move house.

"Then, someone out on parole brought us a message that I would be shot within a week if Glen went ahead. I have been stopped up the town and told to get out of Lurgan.

"But Glen was determined and we backed him. We wanted justice for the Malcolm family. They needed it.

"How could they live in this town if those other three were able to walk freely around it?"Keith Brown, 23, of Ashleigh Crescent and William Turkington, 18, of Monroe Avenue, were this week sentenced to 12 years after murder charges against them were dropped when they finally pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

A 22-year-old RIR soldier Jason Chittick was jailed with them for two years for withholding information about the murder and for assisting the killers.

Mrs Haggan is adamant that her son had no ulterior motive for giving evidence.

"I know people might think he agreed to do this in the hope his own sentence would be shortened. But he wants to pay his price, to be punished and he will do his time."

She has drawn immense comfort from the Malcolm family themselves. Gavin's parents, Sammy and Joan, first approached her during the trial at Belfast's Crumlin Road courthouse.

"I was very nervous when I saw them coming over. I was very emotional. I told them I was sorry Glen had ever ben involved and that he was devastated.

"They are such lovely, lovely people. You could never meet another family like that.

"When Glen broke down in the witness box and said he could not go on, they came over to me afterwards and said they knew he had done his best.

"Glen was just under so much pressure. He was emotionally drained. He could not bear to look at the other three in the dock.

"A doctor said he was suffering from panic attacks. He is taking sleeping tablets but can't sleep. He is haunted by flashbacks."

Once a week Mrs Haggan makes the short trip to Gavin's grave and lays flowers.

"Mrs Malcolm knows that I go there and I don't think she minds."

Once a month she makes the marginally longer journey to Maghaberry prison to see her own son.

In between times she and husband Eric, who have both become Christians since their son was charged with murder, have tried to keep up some facade of family life for the sake of their other two sons, Gary, 22 and 17-year-old Mark.

"Gary has been a Christian since he was 15 and is training to be a missionary. He will be going to Romania later this year.

"It has been harder on Mark because he's younger."

Both boys' photographs are openly on display in the tidy living room of their Mourne Road home _ but there is no picture of Haggan himselfMention its absence, however, and Mrs Haggan's eyes fill with tears.

"I miss him so much. I can't bear to look at his picture. Yes, I know what's he's done but he's still my son and it is not easy to visit him in jail."

Suddenly she jumps up and produces a tiny framed Polaroid, hidden behind the television.

It is a snapshot of Mr and Mrs Haggan, her mother and their son. Taken inside the prison.

"Glen reads a lot these days and has done a couple of City and Guilds English exams. Maybe it will help him make a fresh start if he gets out some day."

She thinks briefly of an uncertain future, then returns to the torment of the present. Her home is only 200 yards from where Gavin was murdered.

"I'm so worried about whether I should even speak out now. What if it causes the Malcolms' more grief?"We have problems too, but some how, because of what the Malcolms have gone through, it seems like ours don't even merit a mention.

"What they had to listen to in court about what happened Gavin was so awful. The other three should have pleaded guilty at the start and never put them through that.

"All I really want to say is that I think it is unfair my son is in jail indefinitely yet his evidence convicted others who received lighter sentences.

"Now Glen will be punished for contempt of court because he was unable mentally to go on giving evidence. I think that's so unfair.

"My son fell in with the devil himself that night. I have thought about this endlessly and that's the only explanation I can come up with.

"But at least he had the guts to own up to what he did. He said 'I was there. I did what I did' and he brought the others back to court. That's something, isn't it?"Gavin Malcolm: Mrs Haggan visits his grave every week.

Death scene: The Lurgan flats where Gavin was killedGlen Haggan:'Full of remorse'By Staff Reporter


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