The brutal and senseless murder of a 15-year-old schoolboy has forced many people to question what is wrong with society in the North, a priest told mourners today.
Thomas Devlin was stabbed in the back five times as he returned to his home in north Belfast with two friends after a visit to a local shop to buy sweets.
The teenager’s parents, Jim and Penny, were joined by dozens of Belfast Royal Academy pupils for his funeral service at the Church of the Resurrection.
Father Sean Emerson paid tribute to the talented musician, who was buried wearing an Iron Maiden T-shirt.
The priest described how he visited the family home and stood at the coffin in Thomas’ bedroom, surrounded by heavy metal posters and a drum set.
Fr Emerson said: “I came away from the home that evening with the thought that many people have expressed - how crazy, wrong and evil that such a young life has ended.
“The brutality of his death has made most people wonder what is going on, what is wrong in society? Those who murdered Thomas must have a very heavy conscience because they have committed a very evil act and that will weigh upon them for the rest of their lives.”
The priest added: “However, for many of us there is a sense of despair. It is not just this isolated incident, it is the on-going violence that happens almost on a daily basis. Why is it? Can anything be done?
“In such times it is important that we remind ourselves that the only thing that can make any difference is for good people to continue to do good things.
“The worst possible thing that could happen is for those who believe in evil and violence to be allowed to terrorise the rest of us to become like them. It is important that we seek to act justly and fairly, to be people of vision and light in the world.”
The motiveless, random murder sent shockwaves through the affluent Somerton Road area where he lived, and which had largely escaped the violence of neighbouring areas.
One of Thomas’ friends was also injured by a single stab wound when they were approached by two males, believed to be in their late teens or early 20s, who had a dog with them.
Two men and a juvenile were arrested following the murder but released without charge.