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Documentary to be aired on NI teen’s killing


Beaten to death: Teenager Megan McAlorum. Credit: Handout Photo

Beaten to death: Teenager Megan McAlorum. Credit: Handout Photo

Beaten to death: Teenager Megan McAlorum. Credit: Handout Photo

A documentary showing the devastation caused to the family of a west Belfast teenager after her murder is to be screened for the first time next month.

Megan McAlorum was just 16 years old when she was beaten to death by Thomas Purcell.

The April 2004 killing shocked the people of Northern Ireland due to the barbarity of the murder and the young age of both the victim and the killer.

Britain’s Deadliest Kids: The Murder of Megan McAlorum will be shown first on Quest Red on Saturday, August 21. It will also be available to view on Discovery on demand from August 31.

Megan’s family fully cooperated with the documentary makers, keen that their sister’s story reach a wider audience.

Earlier this year, Purcell was released from prison in England where he had served almost 17 years for the brutal murder of Megan, who was beaten so badly her family were unable to open her coffin.

Now living somewhere in the south of England and aged 33, the McAlorum’s believe he still poses a threat to the public and specifically to young women.

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They were keen for a wider audience to be aware of Purcell’s violent past in order that other women, who may cross paths with the violent killer, will be aware of the danger he potentially poses.

The documentary crew contacted the family after reading reports of Purcell’s release from prison in the Belfast Telegraph.

In March of this year, this paper reported that Purcell walked free from prison, having served just under 17 years of a life sentence for a killing.

While only 16 at the time he had already a lengthy criminal record and a history of violence.

Megan’s family were concerned that Purcell, who as a member of the Traveller community had lived a transient life prior to the murder, had plans to flee to America following his release from prison.

Purcell was originally jailed in Hydebank Wood young offenders centre but transferred to a prison in England shortly before his 21st birthday, when he was due to be moved to high security Maghaberry jail.

He was moved to a detention centre in Oxford to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Megan’s heartbroken mother Margaret, set about campaigning for a change in the law after discovering through the media that her daughter’s killer has been transferred out of Northern Ireland.

Margaret’s battle features in the documentary, she was buried alongside her daughter following her death in 2017.

The Prison Service later issued an apology for the hurt caused and Margaret’s successful campaign resulted in changes to the victim information scheme so no other family had to go through the same ordeal.

Megan was last seen on Easter Sunday in 2004, the following day her badly beaten and partially clothed body was discovered in a forest half a mile from the Glenside Road in Dunmurry.

She had suffered 54 fractures to her skull, with an expert saying her injuries were the kind expected if someone fell head first from a four-storey building.

After murdering Megan, Purcell made his way to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast where he feigned chest pains in an attempt to give himself an alibi.

Throughout the legal process Purcell showed no remorse and denied murdering Megan pleading guilty at the final hour as his trial was due to begin.

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