‘Jonathan is always here’

Raymond and Hazel Cairns. (2104SL10)
Raymond and Hazel Cairns. (2104SL10)
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In the 13 years since Ballykelly teenager Jonathan Cairns was murdered, each time the family gathers to capture a special moment on camera, parents Raymond and Hazel can’t help think of their son.

Christmas, Easter, a family birthday, or just one of those moments when the family is together and a camera is on hand, there is always a space for Jonathan.

The last picture of Jonathan Cairns, aged 18. (2104SL09)

The last picture of Jonathan Cairns, aged 18. (2104SL09)

Tomorrow, it will be 13 years since the teen was savagely murdered.

The day will be hard for the Cairns, who will lay flowers at Jonathan’s grave about a quarter a mile away from their home, in the graveyard beside the church where the teen was baptised and, 13 years ago, laid to rest.

Looking through pictures of their eldest son, smiling in every snap, heartbroken Raymond and Hazel say time has made little difference to their grief.

After Jonathan’s death, Hazel came across a keepsake about her son’s name, and what it meant. She keeps it by her bedside.

“Jonathan means a gift a God,” says Hazel, “and he was. He was born so easy. I just never thought I would have to give him back so soon. I would rather have went before him.”

The only hope the family have now in getting justice for their boy is thanks to the PSNI and the re-opening of the investigation into Jonathan’s murder.

“I don’t think the case would be re-opened if the police thought there was no hope,” Raymond told the ‘Journal’.

The family have put up a £30,000 reward for information about the “devil killers” behind the brutal attack on April 25 1999, that cut their 18-year-old son’s life short.

“We’d ask anyone who knows something, because there has to be someone who knows something, to do the right thing. Even if they think it’s nothing, that could be the piece of information we need to catch the devil killers,” says Hazel.

The family say relatives and friends will help them get through tomorrow.

“People still send memorial cards, even people outside the family circle,” said Raymond.

Hazel said Jonathan, an apprentice electrician, had a good life ahead of him. He was popular and, although there was no steady girlfriend on the scene as far as Hazel knows, she said her son had plenty of friends, male and female.

“I want the people who killed Jonathan to think of what we are going through. We should be enjoying Jonathan and his life but we’re still suffering. There was a good future there for him, but it was taken away,” said Hazel. “People move you on, but Jonathan is still always here. We want to know who killed Jonathan, and why, but we need people’s help.”