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Killer's release Man who brutally beat Belfast teen Megan McAlorum to death to be released in weeks

Megan had been so badly beaten that she had 54 fractures to her skull and showed signs of having suffered a sexual attack, even though this was not proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt.

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Killer: Thomas Purcell is due to be released in March

Killer: Thomas Purcell is due to be released in March

Killer: Thomas Purcell is due to be released in March

The killer of 16-year-old Megan McAlorum in 2004 in Belfast is set to be released.

Thomas Purcell, who was also 16 at the time, murdered Megan after she had been in the Hunting Lodge bar in the west of the city after a shift in a local bar.

She had gone to get takeaway food after being in the pub and was on her way home whenever Purcell pulled up in a car and offered to give her a lift.

Megan's body was later discovered in a forest near Dunmurry.

She had been so badly beaten that she had 54 fractures to her skull and showed signs of having suffered a sexual attack, even though this was not proven in court beyond a reasonable doubt.

Purcell then returned the next day to where he’d left Megan's body and pretended that he had discovered her.

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16-year-old Megan McAlorum was brutally murdered in 2004

16-year-old Megan McAlorum was brutally murdered in 2004

16-year-old Megan McAlorum was brutally murdered in 2004

Before that, he’d gone to hospital pretending he was ill in a bid to provide a false alibi.

Purcell was later sentenced to 15 years in prison and was initially sent to a young offenders centre.

However, when he turned 21, he was due to be sent to HMP Maghaberry but he argued there would be a threat to his life there.

He was then transferred to an English prison, but Megan's family only found out about the move through the press and spoke of their anger at the time that the Prison Service hadn't informed the family.

Purcell was due to be freed in 2019 but he was still deemed too dangerous to be released into the community. He was given March as a release date after reapplying.

When Purcell was moved to England without his victim’s family being informed, Megan's brother Richard said: "We are all just totally shocked that the prison service didn't even give us the courtesy to lift the phone or even send a letter to tell us that this could happen in the coming weeks.

"I think it shows that everything is currently being weighted in favour of the guilty."

Megan's mother, Margaret McAlorum, passed away in 2017 while waiting for a liver transplant for a rare condition.

Miss McAlorum campaigned relentlessly for justice for Megan after Purcell was transferred to an English prison.

Her work led to a change in policy which meant that victims families must be informed of the release date or any transfer of convicted killers.

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