Belfast Telegraph

Police in new hunt for Gavin Brett’s killers

By Connla Young

Police are to launch a new bid to catch the killers of teenager Gavin Brett a decade after his death.

The Protestant schoolboy was gunned down by a loyalist hit squad as he stood chatting with a Catholic friend outside a GAA club on the Hightown Road in Glengormley in July 2001.

The 18-year-old’s friend, Michael Farrell, was seriously injured in the attack.

The PSNI confirmed yesterday it had reviewed the case and it would now be investigated by detectives from its serious crime branch.

The shooting was claimed by the Red Hand Defenders, a cover name used by the UDA.

In the minutes after the shooting the teenager’s father Michael, who was a paramedic, fought in vain to save his son’s life.

At the time of his murder the teenager was waiting on his A-level results and had hoped to study computer science.

Gavin's mum Phyllis said securing a conviction would bring closure to her family.

She said: “It would be great if people were punished — a life for a life.

“I would hate to think they would capture somebody and give them a smack on the wrist or six months in jail, and then they're back out walking the streets.”

She recalled the last words her son said to her before he was murdered.

“At about 11pm on Sunday he stuck his head through the door to tell us he was going to leave a friend round to the Hightown Road to get a taxi home.

“He said ‘I'll be about five minutes, love you mummy', away he went. That was the last words he spoke to me.”

Just 15 minutes later Mrs Brett received a phone call telling her Gavin had been shot.

She stayed in the family home as her paramedic husband went to the scene, where he performed CPR on Gavin.

“I waited 10 or 15 minutes but I couldn't settle myself, and as I walked round I met several people walking back and I just knew by the looks on their faces that Gavin was dead,” said Mrs Brett.

“When I got there a crowd had gathered and I didn't get to see Gavin, but my husband just shrugged his shoulders. He couldn't speak.”

Mrs Brett added: “I was just numb, I couldn't take it in. I couldn't understand why somebody would want to kill my son, who did nobody any harm.

“Michael found it very difficult to cope with; that he'd saved other people's lives but could do nothing for his own son. I really don't think he ever got over that.”

Michael Brett passed away in 2007 without seeing anyone convicted for the murder.

Mrs Brett believes her husband would want to see those involved in Gavin's murder put behind bars.

“I think Michael would welcome anything that would bring these people to justice,” she said.

“If somebody was caught it would be a bit of closure.

“It is devastating, it just tears your life apart, and your life is never really the same again.

“You just couldn't believe this could happen to your child.

“You look at his friends and 10 years on quite a few of them are married and have families and you just go: ‘That's where Gavin should be.’

“It isn't just Gavin's life they took away, it is what he could have had. It is such a waste.”

She said she would be meeting the police next week in relation to the reinvestigation into Gavin's murder, but was not optimistic of any breakthrough in the investigation.

“If people are dead and the person who sanctioned it is supposed to be dead as well, I really don't know where they are going to go with it,” she added.


The murder of Protestant teenager Gavin Brett sent shockwaves across Northern Ireland in July 2001. The 18-year-old schoolboy was gunned down by the UDA as he stood with Catholic friends in Glengormley. Both sides of the community were united in condemnation. No-one has ever been charged with his murder.

Belfast Telegraph


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