Our heartbreak after losing two sons to murder and road tragedy
THE parents of a murder victim who was beaten to death with rocks at a music festival faced double tragedy when another son was killed in a road accident.
Gerry and Helena O'Connor, from Ballynaclose, Kilmainham Woods, Co Meath, yesterday told the heartbreaking story of the death of their son Gavin, a talented musician who was murdered at a summer music festival in 2011.
Gavin (22) was beaten to death with rocks and then run over in his own car after Conor McClelland (22), from Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, stole the vehicle while Gavin was asleep in the back seat.
A family liaison officer told Gavin’s parents “it was only a matter of time” before their son's killer, who was walking free despite dozens of criminal convictions, took someone'slife.
His heartbroken mother and father have recalled the horrific details of the savage murder and told how their son was beaten with four separate rocks before he was mown down.
“Gavin left the house on Friday night to go to a music festival in Carrickmacross. He was a musician himself,” Gerry O’Connor said.
“He went to the festival every year. He socialised in Carrickmacross all the time. He left and he never came home.”
Mr O’Connor said his son’s life was taken in the most brutal manner.
“He hit Gavin with such force he split his skull in two. It was described as a hinge fracture. He split Gavin's skull in two.”
McClelland was arrested soon after the attack and charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty at trial in Monaghan but was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison.
The family suffered a further loss when they their other son, Patrick (33), died in a road accident shortly before his brother’s murder trial began.
The couple are now trying to highlight the case, and last night told the Herald of their shock when the liaison officer told them McClelland had dozens of previous convictions and was serving a suspended sentence at the time of the vicious attack.
Mr O’Connor said McClelland has never shown any remorse and added that the brutal nature of his son's death would haunt him forever.
“How many times did he hit him with each rock, I'll be counting that for the rest of my life,” he said. “How many times? What were Gavin's last words? Did he cry out for his mother or his daddy or his girlfriend? What went through his mind as he was beaten?”
Helena, Gerard and Judith O'Connor from Ballynaclose, Kilmainham, Co Meath - family of murder victim Gavin O'Connor