Saturday 1 October 2016

'Tell me why you killed my daughter' - mum wants to meet man who strangled her child

Mum of woman murdered by her boyfriend on why she wants explanation from killer

Deborah McAleese

Published 27/04/2016 | 08:17

Linda Brown in the bedroom where her daughter died
Linda Brown in the bedroom where her daughter died
Linda Brown tends the grave of her murdered daughter Nichola Dickson
Killer: McCord
Nichola Dickson

The mother of a young woman brutally murdered by her boyfriend has said she wants to meet him face to face and ask him why he killed her beloved daughter.

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Nichola Dickson was strangled and stabbed in the bedroom of her Ballycarry home in January 2003 by her partner David Thomas McCord.

Nichola Dickson
Nichola Dickson

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Her devastated mother Linda Brown wrote to McCord in prison asking him to meet her and answer her questions.

But McCord refused her request, saying he wanted to forget what had happened and serve the rest of his 11 year prison sentence in peace.

He was released from jail last year. Within weeks he was arrested for attacking another woman. Last week he was found not guilty by a jury that was unaware of his murderous past.

Killer: McCord
Killer: McCord

"I believe he is still a very dangerous man. The jury should have been told about his past. It just seems that the law is there to protect the criminals, not the victims," said Ms Brown.

"I just said to a friend the other day, I can't get away from this man and what he did. My son Gareth's partner has just had a baby and Nichola's not here. We just miss her so, so much."

McCord was sentenced in 2004 to a minimum of 11 years behind bars for the murder of Nichola, who he had met over the internet.

He had stabbed her with a kitchen knife and strangled her in her house near Larne on January 7, 2003.

Nichola's body was found by her mother in a bedroom at the house on Hillhead Road, Ballycarry.

The sentencing judge at the time told the court that McCord had stabbed the young woman in a fit of "extreme and wholly unjustified jealousy".

At the time Nichola's father said McCord had robbed him and his family "of the most precious thing on Earth".

"Everyone has been totally devastated," he said.

Ms Brown told the Belfast Telegraph that 13 years after her daughter's death she still needs to know why McCord murdered her.

"I wrote to him and asked to visit him so I could talk to him about what happened. I wanted to ask him why he killed Nichola. I got a letter back from his solicitor to say that he didn't want to meet us. He wanted to forget about it and get on with serving his sentence. I was gutted," she said.

Ms Brown added: "I still have a lot of questions to be answered. I know I would never get the truth out of him and I don't really know why I want to meet him, but I know it is something I want to do."

The Carrick woman, who in 2004 delivered a petition to Stormont for stiffer sentences for men who kill their partners, criticised the authorities for failing to share information with her family about McCord.

She said the family had been kept in the dark about McCord's release from prison in 2013 under a pre-release scheme. A request for information about where he was living was denied due to data protection laws, Ms Brown said. She also said the family only heard he had been rearrested through a friend.

"First they didn't tell us when he was being released from prison, they then wouldn't tell us where he was living. And we had to find out through a friend that he had been arrested on suspicion of attacking a new girlfriend. We are always being kept in the dark," said Ms Brown.

She added: "The system has protected him from day one. I haven't been in Belfast since the murder because I am afraid of bumping into him or any of his family unexpectedly.

"We were so surprised when he was allowed out, that someone had actually deemed him fit for release. I believe he is still a very dangerous man and that woman he was accused of attacking had a very lucky escape. He has never shown any remorse for what he did."

Nichola's brother Gareth Smyth said he believed McCord was still extremely dangerous.

"The whole thing from start to finish has been geared towards protecting the criminal. There is not enough protection for women like my sister," he said.

"How many cases like this must there be before more is done to better protect victims?

"I am convinced he has not been rehabilitated. He is still an extremely dangerous man. The sentence he got was just ridiculous.

"He's free and getting on with his life. My sister is dead.

"While we can't forget what happened, my mum and I have been trying to move on as best we can. But my dad is crippled still. He is only a shell of who he was. He's never going to be the same again."

In 2004 Nichola's family petitioned the Government for tougher sentences for domestic murders. More than 50,000 signatures were presented at Stormont by Ms Brown and the family of victim Angela Snoddy, who was stabbed more than 60 times by her partner.

The families called for the Secretary of State and the Life Sentence Review Commissioners to take public outrage at domestic murders into account when setting minimum release tariffs.

"Unfortunately, not much has changed in terms of sentencing since Nichola was killed as far as I can see. McCord destroyed our lives. Victims deserve so much better," said Mr Smyth.

Belfast Telegraph

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