Belfast Telegraph

PSNI pursues fresh leads over the death of 18-year-old killed in 1999

By Donna Deeney

Jonathan Cairns' bedroom sits exactly the same as it was 13 years ago when he was murdered at just 18 years old.

His photographs, posters and other personal belongings that any teenager would have are still where he left them.

His room is where his father Raymond and mother Hazel go to sit sometimes on the days when they want to feel a little bit closer to the son who was cruelly taken from them by the murderers who beat and then stripped his body and who have never been brought to justice .

This week police will conduct new enquiries in Ballykelly village where Jonathan grew up.

The move was prompted by an intense re-examination of every scrap of evidence gathered which has been ongoing for several months.

Jonathan Cairns was standing at the local chip shop with his friends in the Co Londonderry village in the early hours of April 25. He smiled and waved to his parents as they drove past on their way home after a night with friends. It was the last time they saw their son alive.

His body was found in a shallow grave in Loughermore forest, five miles from the family home where his parents still live.

His bloodied clothing turned up just yards from his home, neatly folded, sitting on the steps of a local special needs school.

Raymond Cairns says his family have always held on to the hope that Jonathan's killer would some day be caught.

He said: “Every time I read about police finding a killer after 20 or 25 years it renews our hope and we have never lost faith that the police will catch the people who murdered Jonathan.

“One person was convicted for perverting the course of justice — Jonathan's body was in the boot of his car. He must know how it got there, who put it there and who did this terrible thing to our son.”

Police say they are committed to pursuing all those involved and bringing them before the courts.

Enquiries will be conducted in the village over the coming days.

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector John McVea, said: “We are following a number of new lines of inquiry.

“Jonathan was a local teenager who was killed on his way home after a night out. We believe his killer or killers also lived locally.

“We also believe that people within the community have information which could help us.

“We ask people to think back to the Saturday night and Sunday morning of 24/25 April 1999.

“Police spoke to many people at the time but we are still trying to identify anyone who was in the Clooney Road, Loughermore Road or Caman Park areas of Ballykelly between 1.30am and 9am on Sunday, April 25.

“People may not have been prepared to come forward at the time but we ask people to think again.

“Circumstances and loyalties may have changed over the intervening 13 years and it is never too late to do the right thing.”

Detectives can be contacted at North Queen Street in Belfast on 028 9056 1812 or anonymously on Crimestoppers on 08 0055 |5111.

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