31/05/2006

Teenager given 15-years for schoolgirl's murder

The teenager who admitted murdering a west Belfast schoolgirl, has been told that he must serve a minimum of 15-years in prison.

Thomas Purcell, 18, from Windsor Road, Belfast, had initially denied murdering 16-year-old Megan McAlorum, however before the trial began at Craigavon Crown Court last month, he changed his plea to guilty at the last minute.

Purcell abducted the teenager and drove her to a secluded forested area just off the Glenside Road in the west of the city. He admitted to beating the teenager to death after they had sex in the early hours of Easter Sunday in April 2004.

Purcell then left her partially clothed body, returning the following day to discover the girl's body.

At Craigavon Crown Court today, Mr Justice McLaughlin said that Purcell had attacked his victim with "pitiless ferocity and with overwhelming force designed to achieve on object, namely her death."

Mr Justice McLaughlin described Megan as a "bright, vivacious fun-loving young woman, a credit to her parents and family and had everything to life for."

He added that she had been brought up by her parents to respect others, and had a bright future ahead of her.

"You destroyed all of that by killing her and in doing so destroyed the lives of her parents, brothers and sisters," he concluded.

Megan's mother, who attended today's court hearing to hear the minimum tarriff set for Purcell, collapsed and had to be supported as she left the court.

Margaret McAlorum had written to the court calling for Purcell not be be released and to serve life.

Outside the court she said that the whole family was "totally devastated" that Purcell, who she said had shown no remorse, would be allowed back out onto the streets.

(EF/SP)

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