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Parole pain 'Tell me why': Mum's tearful plea to killer who bludgeoned son to death

"We should be allowed meet the parole board and let them see the hurt in our faces, because trust me, it is a hurt we cannot hide."

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Heartbroken parents Gerry and Helena O'Connor

Heartbroken parents Gerry and Helena O'Connor

Heartbroken parents Gerry and Helena O'Connor

The mother of a young man brutally bludgeoned to death in a frenzied attack nine years ago has told the Sunday World, "I'd love my son's killer to sit in front of me and tell me why he did it'.

Helena O'Connor and her husband Gerry from Kilmainhamwood in Co Meath lost their son Gavin after he was repeatedly struck with a number of different rocks by Conor McClelland.

The killer broke into Gavin's car and drove off while the musician lay in the back seat in Carrickmacross county Monaghan on June 4th 2011.

A tearful Helena also revealed that the family, who tragically lost another son Patrick in a road traffic accident two years after Gavin's death, have to revisit the whole incident every time McClelland appeals for parole.

'Officially that man is serving a life sentence but it appears he is entitled to appeal for parole every so often and when he does we have to submit a victim impact statement to the parole board to show why we feel he shouldn't get it.

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Tragic murder victim Gavin O'Connor

Tragic murder victim Gavin O'Connor

Tragic murder victim Gavin O'Connor

'As Gerry says that means reopening a wound that is never going to heal anyway, and I think a much better way to do it would be if we were allowed sit down with the people doing the hearing and address them.

'Words on a page can only do so much.

"We should be allowed meet the parole board and let them see the hurt in our faces, because trust me, it is a hurt we cannot hide."

A distraught Gerry is adamant that a life sentence should mean just that.

"The guy who slaughtered our lad had the opportunity to get parole after just seven years, nobody can tell me that's right.

'Before Gavin's death I might have thought differently when I heard a comment about a murder along the lines of 'they should lock them up and throw away the key', but I understand that only too well now."

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Gavin was asleep in his car when McClelland got into it and drove off.

When Gavin woke up, McCelland jumped out got a rock from the roadside and battered him with it, when that became blood soaked and too slippy to hold he got another rock and continued the attack.

Altogether he used four different rocks.

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Gavin O'Connor

Gavin O'Connor

Gavin O'Connor

"He then bundled Gavin out of the car and drove over him, Marie Cassidy, the state pathologist, told me at the time Gavin would have felt nothing after that, she meant well but it didn't help much hearing it.

"McClelland did all that and yet there are people trying to say it is safe for him to be released back into society."

Despite McClelland's conviction the O'Connor's still feel some questions around the murder remain unanswered.

Gerry asked: "'We'd like to know how he got in Gavin's car in the first place.

"The guards told us the door was unlocked but we don't accept that.

"Gavin was one of the most security-conscious young fellows you could meet.

"Put it this way - he'd lock the front door of our house every time he left where perhaps myself and Helena might not.

"We believe that he tapped on the window and Gavin, thinking it was one of his friends, opened the door and let him in.

"But I suppose it is a question we will never get the answer to."

Gerry and Helena will spend Christmas at home this year for the first time since Gavin's murder.

Helena said she's not quite sure how they will cope.

"Normally we would go to Tenerife for the break or travel to our daughter in Australia but Covid has put paid to both of those, so it looks like we can take to the bed for the three days or drink wine to get through it.

"The reality is though that come January I have to face up to writing yet another letter to a parole board that is considering allowing my son's killer his freedom unless you have gone through that yourself you will never understand how traumatic that is."

Gerry and Helena O'Connor will feature on the CrimeLapse podcast on Monday, November 30.

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