Killer Freed - Musician’s widow fears chance meeting in street

Mrs. Eileen Gilchrist and her daughter Catherine, pictured at a seat dedicated to her late husband's memory at the Foyle Embankment yesterday evening. 2707JM71

Mrs. Eileen Gilchrist and her daughter Catherine, pictured at a seat dedicated to her late husband's memory at the Foyle Embankment yesterday evening. 2707JM71

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The heartbroken family of a Derry musician murdered after being robbed and thrown into the River Foyle last night spoke of their anguish that one of his killers has been released from prison.

The callous murder of 62-year-old granddad Jim Gilchrist, who was attacked while cycling through the city in 2005, sent shockwaves across the country.

Mrs. Eileen Gilchrist drops some flowers at the spot on the Foyle riverbank where her late husband was murdered seven years ago. 2707JM70

Mrs. Eileen Gilchrist drops some flowers at the spot on the Foyle riverbank where her late husband was murdered seven years ago. 2707JM70

His daughter Catherine Gilchrist says the family were devastated to learn that one of three men convicted in connection with Jim’s brutal death, has been released and “can now walk the streets of Derry like a free man”.

The family were told last week that Daniel Young, who admitted the manslaughter of the popular musician, was being set free, just over four years after receiving a ten year sentence at Derry Crown Court.

Last night the family laid flowers on a bench close to Derry City Council offices, dedicated to their beloved father and husband. They also erected posters to let the people of Derry know one of his killers was now free.

Catherine Gilchrist said: “We are not vigilantes. We have always acted with dignity, even when we had to sit through unbearable evidence. But we can’t just sit and do nothing now. We can’t just pretend nothing has happened.”

The Gilchrist family say they now fear a chance meeting with Daniel Young. “My biggest fear now - what we have to live with - is that my mother will come face to face with him (Young) and that the stress of seeing him will bring on a heart attack.

“This does not go away; what they did. It will never go away for us, but Young is out walking the streets again now. He has his freedom back.”

Slamming the sentences received by her father’s killers as “insulting”, Catherine said she wanted to highlight how the justice system was letting victims and their families down. “It’s not just us,” she said. “How many other families of manslaughter or murder victims have to face seeing those who destroyed their lives walking around just a few years later getting on with their lives?

“If we were in America, there is no way we would be in this position. There is no way he would be free. We would not feel let down.”

Catherine said she and her family felt “utterly helpless” since Young’s release, with her mother Eileen finding the news hardest to take. “She keeps asking if we can get a re-trial, if there is anything else we can do. She can’t believe that someone could take another life in such a cruel way and be walking the streets just a few years later.”

Blues musician Jim Gilchrist was murdered as he made his way home from the Oval Bar in the Waterside in September 2005.

During the trial of three men accused in connection with his death, Derry Crown Court heard how Mr Gilchrist was assaulted before being thrown into the River Foyle while still alive.

One man, Anthony Fahy, admitted murdering Mr Gilchrist while Young and co-accused Daryl Quigley both pleaded guilty to manslaughter.