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Schoolboy murderer’s rape trial abandoned on first day

A rape case against the notorious killer of schoolboy Thomas Devlin has been halted.

As the trial was due to begin at Belfast Crown Court, prosecutors applied for the charges against 27-year-old Nigel James Brown “not to be proceeded with without the leave of this court or the Court of Appeal”.

With no objection from Brown’s defence QC Arthur Harvey, Judge Tom Burgess lifted reporting restrictions on the case and left the charge “on the books”.

Brown, from the Whitewell Road in north Belfast, had been charged with raping a girl on September 7, 2008.

He is currently serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 22 years for the callous murder of 15-year-old schoolboy Thomas Devlin.

In a case that shocked Northern Ireland, Gary Taylor, from Mountcollyer Avenue, and Brown attacked the defenceless teenager as he walked home from shops after buying sweets with his friends.

Brown first attacked Jonathan McKee with a bat as Taylor grabbed Thomas and dragged him down from the wall he was trying to clamber over to safety.

After stabbing Thomas to death, Taylor then attacked Jonathan with the knife. The court heard that the boy’s life was saved |because the backpack he was carrying — which Thomas had given him only minutes beforehand — took the brunt of the blows.

Taylor is currently serving a life sentence, with a minimum tariff of 30 years.

Earlier this year, Mr Justice McLaughlin handed Brown a five-and-a-half year term after he pleaded guilty to attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to Jonathan.

There were reporting restrictions in place on that aspect of the case — but after yesterday’s rape trial against Brown collapsed, Mr Justice McLaughlin lifted them.

When he jailed them for life in May, the judge told the pair they had launched a “horrifying and brutal attack upon utterly defenceless and harmless boys”.

“It is self-evident that this was a deliberate attack designed to cause maximum injury — in fact indisputably the intention was to cause the death of Thomas,” said Mr Justice McLaughlin.

Belfast Telegraph