Parents of brutally murdered man tell of their pain at seeing their gentle son's bashed face
'Blood was running out of Gavin O'Connor's eyes, nose, mouth, and ears'
Published 09/04/2014 | 13:42
The grieving parents of 22-year-old Gavin O’Connor who was horrifically battered to death by a thug have called for an overhaul of the justice system.
Gavin O'Connor, a 22-year-old musician, was murdered while he was sleeping in his car after a music festival on June 4, 2011.
Conor McClelland (22) was found guilty of the murder on February 18, but Gavin's parents - Gerry and Helena – fear that McClelland will not serve a full life sentence.
They told RTE’s Prime Time last night that Ireland’s prisons are blocked up with people serving sentences for less serious crimes.
“If there’s anything to be done to the justice system in this country, will you please do it?”
“Right, our prison’s are full, but you have people in there for not paying their TV license or stupid things, the woman at the runway at Shannon, or whatever. Lock up the people that should be locked up,” Gavin’s mother Helena said.
Her husband Gerry added: “I’d like to tell parents to tell their children, no matter how old or how young they are, that they love them everyday.”
Gavin was battered in the head with four rocks, and his killer then ran over him with Gavin’s car, such that his skull was split in two.
His devastated parents said their son’s face was in such bad condition that they had to make three attempts before they could step into his hospital room and say their final goodbyes.
“[At the hospital]The doctor came in and he told us that Gavin was not going to make it. They asked us would we like to see Gavin, and we said ‘yes’. And he said, well, he’s not a pretty sight at the moment. Because of the extent of his injuries, the blood is running out of his eyes, his nose, his mouth, and his ears,” Helena said.
“We went to the doors and the nurse pushed it open and when we seen the state of Gavin’s face, we turned back. We tried a second time and we turned back, and on the third attempt we went in.”
“And Gavin’s face was a total and utter mess. It was black, it was purple, it was yellow, it was swollen beyond belief. He had a big bulge sticking out of the side of his temple. It was just horrendous.”
“But it was Gavin and we knew it was Gavin, and we talked to him and we hugged him and we kissed him, and we were there. All of his friends were outside.”
At Conor McClelland’s trial, State Pathologist Marie Cassidy said Gerry had been bashed to the extent that his eye sockets were smashed.
Gerry recalled: “Gavin was the most laid back guy I think I have ever come across... He just was such a gentle, laid back chap.”
“I’ll be haunted for ever more of visions of this fella yielding those rocks on top of my Gavin’s head. That’s the vision I’m left with that’s haunting me.”
“The word murder is too mild a word for what this man did to Gavin. He horrifically slaughtered him, and a guy that did that should never see the light of day again, and he should be serving 30 years plus.”
Helena said while the couple were “very pleased” that he was found guilty of murder, they have to endure a bigger life sentence without their son.
Gerry and Helena also lost their other son Patrick in a road traffic accident in November.
“Patrick was our rock after when Gavin died. And he died in a road traffic accident.”
“[McClelland] will walk out of that prison long enough to carry on with his life. Myself and Gerry will bring this to the grave with us,” Helena said.
“I am so sick everyday sometimes to even brush my hair or wash my teeth is an ordeal. Sometimes to even just stand up is an ordeal. I can’t see the future”