‘It’s 21 years since the boys were murdered, and I believe so much more could come out now…police should reopen case’

THE father of the youngest victim in the shocking sectarian murders of three children has said the PSNI should reopen the investigation into their deaths.

David Joyce, whose eight year-old son Jason died alongside his two brothers in a UVF petrol bomb attack on their Ballymoney home in 1998, said justice has yet to be served.

Mr Joyce (55) was speaking after revelations a leading member of the loyalist gang involved has died suddenly.

The PSNI is investigating circumstances of Raymond Parke’s death after his body was recovered from the River Bann on Thursday.

Parke, from Bushmills, Co Antrim, was named in court as one of the UVF men who helped hurl the huge petrol bomb into the Carnany home of Chrissie Quinn on July 12, 1998.

Her three children Richard (10), Mark (9) and Jason (8) all perished in the blaze.

Despite being named by one of the gang, Parke was never convicted of the killings.

In fact just one person, getaway driver Garfield Gilmour, was brought before the courts.

Gilmour was originally convicted of murder but the charge was dropped to manslaughter on appeal. He was sentenced to 14 years behind bars in 2000.

Speaking to the Sunday World, Mr Joyce said it was time the other people involved appear before a judge.

He said: “I believe a new police investigation is required.

“It’s 21 years since the boys were murdered and I believe that so much more information would come out now.

“One person was convicted and the charges later dropped to manslaughter. A few years he spent inside and he was out again.
“Three children murdered and that is the result, they are all walking free. It’s a disgrace and I don’t think we will ever see justice.

“(Garfield) Gilmour told that many lies during his police interviews that unfortunately his word was not good enough to convict the others involved.
“I believe there is a chance that they still can be brought to justice.”
Mr Joyce said it was well known the role Parke played in the death of his son and brothers.

He said: “We are glad he is dead. It was a bit of a relief to the boys’ mummy Chrissie.
“It’s a day-to-day thing, she will never get over losing them . She just tries to get through each day which is hard enough without the added pain of knowing those that murdered her children are walking about getting on with their lives.”

Chrissie Quinn had only just been living at the address, targeted by the UVF at the height of the Orange Order Drumcree stand-off, for six days when it was attacked.

The savagery of the triple killing made headlines around the world.

In police interviews after he was arrested grammar school educated Gilmour named Parke and another loyalist, Johnny McKay, as leading perpetrators the evil attack.

The then 24 year-old farm machinery salesman, who was “sucked in” to the terror gang but denied being a member, told officers he drove three UVF men to the mainly Protestant Ballymoney estate just after 4am on July 12, 1998.

Another man, Ivan Parke, remained in the car to make sure he waited as Raymond Parke and McKay left armed with a one-and-three-quarter litre bottle of whiskey filled with petrol.

He said they had left to launch the firebomb through the living room window of the Quinn home.

“They disappeared for a short time a moment or so,” Mr Gilmour told police, adding that he then spotted them behind some houses and “saw something glistening in Johnny’s hand – a bottle”.

Mr Gilmour said he then “heard a sound of breaking glass, like a window breaking. The two of them sprinted back to my car.”

“They were pumped up as if they had done a hard workout in the gym,” Gilmour told RUC officers.

He revealed the brazen gang even returned to the scene 10 minutes later and watched the Quinn house burn.

It was also revealed during the trial that Parke and three other members of the UVF gang had been arrested and questioned over the murders, but were never charged.

The judge accepted in his judgment that Gilmour had remained in the getaway car while McKay and Parke lobbed the petrol bomb.

The Quinn brothers.

The murders took place just hours before thousands of Orangemen and supporters were due to descend on Portadown after they were banned from marching along the nationalist Garvaghy Road.

In that week alone there were 137 loyalist petrol-bomb attacks on Catholic homes and businesses across Northern Ireland.

In the days prior to the murderous petrol bomb attack, five Catholic families on the mainly Protestant estate had received a Christmas card from the UVF with the warning “get out now” scrawled on it. A bullet had been enclosed with each.

The Quinn family had also been subjected to threats, despite the boys attending a Protestant school in the area. On the night of the murders, Chrissie, a Catholic, stayed up to 2.30am for fear her home might be targeted.

Around two hours after going to bed loyalists attacked the house, which was quickly engulfed by fire.

It later emerged that Chrissie had tried to save her children before jumping from an upstairs bedroom window.

Two friends who were staying in the house also escaped.

It was later reported that the desperate children could be heard crying for help with one calling out that his feet were burning as fire swept through their home.

Speaking on the 20th anniversary of the boys death, their uncle Frankie revealed how he identified the charred bodies of his little nephews.

I talked the hospital into letting me see the weans and they didn’t want me to,” he said

I did ID them, they were black. Their wee mouths were all melted, where they had been bringing in the hot fumes.

It was tough, I only ID’d two, I didn’t want to ID the third, I knew who the third was.”

Mr Quinn also told the Irish News that his sister Chrissie also wanted to see her little boys.

Then my sister wanted to see them, I talked her out of it,” he said.

I told her it was something she didn’t want to see.

“I could clearly see their mouths were melted like plastic, it’s something I will not forget.”

The children were later waked at their grandmother’s house in Rasharkin.

To me it wasn’t real,” Mr Quinn said.

I dug their grave, that was an experience and a half.

I was just numb and could not believe it was happening, that’s why I had to see their bodies, I didn’t want to believe it.

They were in closed coffins, it was just three white boxes sitting in the room covered in flowers.”

On Friday a PSNI spokesperson confirmed it had launched a probe into the death of a man in Coleraine, Co Derry.

“Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a man whose body was discovered in the River Bann, Coleraine today Thursday 31 October,” a statement said.

“A post-mortem examination is due to take place to determine the cause of death.”

Published by Patricia Devlin

Award winning journalist based in Ireland covering crime and investigations.

2 thoughts on “‘It’s 21 years since the boys were murdered, and I believe so much more could come out now…police should reopen case’

  1. The Quinn family need an independent inquiry & full & fedinal closure to these horrendous cold blooded murders. My heart goes out to Chrissie, they’re mother. And of course they’re uncle Francie who is pro-actively fighting for a much needed inquiry, 21 years on.


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