Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Cairns family deserve justice for their son

Jonathan Cairns, an 18-year-old from Ballykelly, was murdered and buried in a shallow grave in a remote forest area near his home 20 years ago, and his parents Raymond and Hazel have campaigned ceaselessly to keep his death in the public eye even though talking to the media is something of a trial for them
Jonathan Cairns, an 18-year-old from Ballykelly, was murdered and buried in a shallow grave in a remote forest area near his home 20 years ago, and his parents Raymond and Hazel have campaigned ceaselessly to keep his death in the public eye even though talking to the media is something of a trial for them

Editor's Viewpoint

It is the fate of most people who die a violent death to fade from the public consciousness as time passes unless there is something unusual or particularly newsworthy about their murder.

But for family and close friends time can never erase the pain, the memories and, in cases which have never been solved, the desire to find out why their loved one died.

Jonathan Cairns, an 18-year-old from Ballykelly, was murdered and buried in a shallow grave in a remote forest area near his home 20 years ago, and his parents Raymond and Hazel have campaigned ceaselessly to keep his death in the public eye even though talking to the media is something of a trial for them.

But they will do anything to solve their son's murder. They want to know why the boy they last saw on the night he died, standing outside a local chip shop, was killed. A wave as they drove past is their last memory of him.

Like so many other bereaved families, thoughts of the boy they lost are with them every day. Not only do they wonder how he died but why and by whose hand. Those are torturing questions.

So, too, are the thoughts that Jonathan would now be 38 if he had lived, and probably married and perhaps have children - grandchildren for Raymond and Hazel who, no doubt, would have loved them as they loved Jonathan.

That possibility has been denied to them by murderers and those who shield them. A £30,000 reward has failed to loosen tongues in a fairly small area where police are convinced the murderers came from. Surely humanity should be enough of a spur to persuade people to give whatever information they have to the PSNI?

But then we know that too often people with information which could put killers in the dock prefer instead to remain silent. Sometimes it is fear that motivates such silence, which is understandable in cases where terrorist groups are involved, but sometimes it is merely misplaced loyalty.

There should never be any hiding place for those who wantonly kill another human being. If they can do it once, they may well do it again, and they certainly have no place in normal society.

Thousands of bereaved people in Northern Ireland share the frustration of Mr and Mrs Cairns at the inability to identify their loved one's killers. Many remain silent and their loved one's deaths have faded from the public consciousness.

But the Cairns family continue to campaign, and they deserve answers and closure.

Belfast Telegraph

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