Northern Ireland

Killers of schoolboy Thomas Devlin to launch appeal

Image caption Nigel Brown, 27, and Gary Taylor, 23, were found guilty of murder

Two men jailed for the murder of schoolboy Thomas Devlin are to appeal their convictions.

Gary Taylor and Nigel Brown were both found guilty of killing the 15-year-old, who was stabbed to death near his north Belfast home in August 2005.

Taylor, 24, of Mountcollyer Avenue in Belfast, was ordered to serve a minimum 30 years in prison.

Brown, 27, from Whitewell Road in the city, was jailed for at least 22 years for his part in the killing.

They were also convicted of the attempted murder of Thomas's friend, Jonathan McKee, who was injured in the same attack.

But lawyers for both men are now preparing to challenge the guilty verdicts.

Judges in the Court of Appeal were told on Friday that transcripts from the original trial are being sought.

Counsel for Brown, Charles McCreanor, said the appeal hearing was expected to take up to four days.

Thomas Devlin was knifed to death as he walked home along the Somerton Road with friends after buying sweets in a local garage.

'Maximum damage'

He tried to run away from his attackers but was pulled off a wall and stabbed nine times.

Jonathan McKee was also wounded as he went to help his stricken friend, with the jury told he would probably have suffered the same fate as Thomas had he not been carrying a rucksack which took the brunt of further blows.

Following a five-week trial last year the judge, Mr Justice McLaughlin said the the attack on Thomas had been "sustained and deliberate" and was "designed to cause maximum damage".

Transcripts requested by the defence teams have now been ordered to enable the challenge to proceed.

Lawyers for Taylor were also given two weeks to finalise their grounds of appeal.

Lord Justice Higgins, sitting with Lord Justices Girvan and Coghlin, indicated the case would be fixed for hearing later this year.