Belfast Telegraph

Raymond Parke, UVF suspect in brutal murder of Quinn boys, is found drowned

The Quinn brothers Jason, Mark and Richard. The other brother Lee (behind) was staying with his grandparents
The Quinn brothers Jason, Mark and Richard. The other brother Lee (behind) was staying with his grandparents

By Jenna Gardiner

A body pulled from the River Bann has been identified as loyalist Raymond Parke, one of three men implicated in the sectarian killing of three young brothers over 20 years ago.

The PSNI is investigating the circumstances surrounding the UVF man's death.

His body was discovered on Thursday, 21 years on from the petrol bomb attack which killed the three young boys in Co Antrim.

Quinn brothers Richard (10), Mark (9) and Jason (8) died when the device was launched through the living room window of their home in Carnany estate, Ballymoney, on July 12 1998.

Parke, from Bushmills in Co Antrim, was later named in court as one third of the gang involved in the savage triple killing at the height of the marching season.

Hours before his remains were discovered in Coleraine, Parke's family issued an appeal for information on his whereabouts.

Police later confirmed they are probing the father-of-two's movements in the 12 hours before his death and awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination.

The Sunday World reported how Parke was identified by the loyalist gang's getaway driver Garfield Gilmour, who was later convicted of murdering the three Catholic boys.

The Ballymoney man's charge was reduced to manslaughter on appeal. He was jailed for 14 years in 2000.

During his trial Gilmour said Parke and fellow loyalist Johnny McKay were responsible for launching the deadly firebomb.

Police interviews brought to light a series of harrowing details, with the court hearing that the trio had returned to the Quinn household to watch it burn around 10 minutes after launching the attack.

The interviews revealed that Gilmour heard "a sound of breaking glass, like a window breaking", before McKay and Parke fled the house for his car.

"They were pumped as if they had done a hard workout in the gym," he told RUC officers.

The judge accepted that Gilmour had remained in the car while McKay and Parke were the ones who launched the bomb. Despite being implicated in the attack and arrested and questioned by police, the Bushmills man never faced charges.

Bereaved mother Chrissie Quinn lost her three youngest boys as they became trapped in their bedroom while the house was engulfed in flames.

She herself jumped from an upstairs window after trying to save her children, while oldest boy Lee (12) was spared as he slept overnight at his grandmother's house.

Frankie Quinn, who identified the burned bodies of his nephews, was clear on his feelings about Parke's death.

"I hope he rots in hell," he told the Sunday World.

The attack on the Quinn home in a mainly Protestant area took place at the height of the Drumcree standoff, hours before thousands of Orangemen and their supporters were due to descend on Portadown for the July 12 parades.

It was one of 137 loyalist petrol-bomb attacks on Catholic homes in Northern Ireland that week alone.

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