Irish News

Friday 25 July 2014

Heartbroken parents tell how killer battered their musician son with rocks and split his skull in two

Conor McClelland, 22, drove car at Gavin O'Connor to hide the fact that he beat him senseless

Published 04/04/2014|14:39

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Gavin O'Connor, a 22-year-old musician, was murdered while he was sleeping in his car.
Gavin O'Connor, a 22-year-old musician, was murdered while he was sleeping in his car.
Conor McClelland, 22, was found guilty of the murder of Gavin O'Connor
Conor McClelland, 22, was found guilty of the murder of Gavin O'Connor

The heartbroken parents of a 22-year-old musician who died following an assault have spoken on live radio about their loss.

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Gavin O'Connor, a 22-year-old musician, was murdered while he was sleeping in his car after a music festival.

Conor McClelland, 22, was found guilty of the murder on February 18, but Gavin's parents - Gerry and Helena - believe that the trial of Mr McClelland went completely under-reported.

They told RTE's Liveline today how their musician son had "everything to live for" and they will never recover from the trauma of losing him.

A tearful Helena said: "Gavin O'Connor left here on Friday night happy as Larry and he never came home. He socialised in Carrickmackross all his life and he slept in his car on the night."

"He was a musician himself. He went to the [Carrickmacross] festival every year...He left and he never came home."

Gavin slept in his car to avoid driving home - having consumed some alcohol. But on the tragic night his car was broken into, he was seriously assaulted, and he died at a later stage.

Helena said: "Gavin spent the night with his friends, having a few pints, listening to different bands. And at approximately 3.20am he went back to his car where he had it parked. He took off his runners, put them on the front seat and lay down and went to sleep."

"Gavin was consequently assaulted with four rocks while he was sleeping in the back of the car and then we don't know how he was got out of the car but he was ran down with his own car."

"We will never accept the way that Gavin died. He did the right thing sleeping in his car [instead of driving home]."

Gavin's dad Gerry told Joe Duffy: "He had an awful lot of live for...It breaks our hearts now. I'd be driving along now and I'd hear a song that reminds me of him and I'd have to pull over."

Helena said she felt disappointed at how little media coverage the court case received.

"There was absolutely no media presence at the trial for this horrific murder."

Gerry added: "It's as if nobody knew and nobody cared."

"This man assaulted Gavin in the back of his car with a rock the size of a fist, to the extent that he probably knocked Gavin out.”

“He was able to go to the ditch and he took a rock out of the ditch the size of your shoe. He got back into the car and he battered the head of Gavin with the rock to the extent that he lost that rock."

This continued a third time, a tearful Gerry told Joe Duffy.

"He then went for a walk to cool himself off...and when he turned around he said he saw Gavin standing on the road with his head covered in blood with his hands at his side.”

“He said he got into Gavin’s car and he drove it at him. And he hit Gavin with such force that he split Gavin’s skull in two.”

“It was a hinge fracture. His skull was split in two.”

“The injuries to his face were so bad that his eye sockets were smashed,” Gerry said.

McClelland's trial heard that he admitted to gardaí that after Mr O’Connor awoke in the vehicle, he struck him across the head with rocks a number of times, and when Mr O’Connor then emerged onto the road, he drove the car at him.

Conor McLelland.PNG 

Conor McClelland

He admitted doing this to make the injuries caused by hitting the victim with rocks look as if they were caused in a motor accident.

Mr O’Connor, a guitarist with a local classic rock group, was found lying on the roadway at about 5.30am on June 4, 2011.

Gavin was pronounced dead at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda shortly before 7pm that day.

State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy McLelland's trial that his death was due to injuries to the head and brain caused by vehicular impact.

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