'˜I forgave the fifteen year old who murdered my happy father'
A 16 year old girl has spoken publicly for the first time about how she found the courage to forgive the teenager who murdered her father after stabbing him with a broken bottle.
Kila Curran Coleman was just eight years old, when her dad Pat, nicknamed ‘Happy’, was brutally killed by a 15 year-old on the streets of Limerick.
But remarkably the teenager found the strength to write to her father’s murderer in prison, to forgive him, and tell him she knew he was sorry. And she says she would like to one day meet the man who robbed her of her father.
On Wednesday, brave Kila, spoke for the first time about her experience as part of a two day event in St Cecilia’s College on the theme of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
The event, chaired by former BBC presenter Paul McFadden, saw pupils from the school being told how Pat ‘Happy’ Coleman’ had been walking home from an All Ireland final in 2008.
Kila’s father approached a group of teenagers who were drinking near the Janesboro Soccer Club. Pat knocked over a beer bottle angering one of the teens. The boy followed Pat, smashed a beer bottle, sticking it into Kila’s father’s neck. Bleeding heavily Pat managed to stagger home and was later found dead on his bathroom floor. He left behind his wife Diane and two daughters.
His attacker was jailed for ten years for his crime.
Kila revealed that shortly after her father’s death, she wrote to her father’s attacker in prison.
“I was only eight when I wrote the letter,” she said. “But I didn’t send it until a long time after. I didn’t see the point in him staying in prison when he felt bad. He told the priest in prison that he didn’t think he should get out.
“I knew he was sorry and there was a chance he could get out and live a good life. My mum and my sister felt the same. I didn’t think there was any point in him suffering, there’s been enough suffering. I’ve heard he was relieved we had forgiven him and it had lessened his burden and hi guilt.
“I don’t feel angry at him. It’s easy to forgive someone who is really sorry and wants to be forgiven.
“He wasn’t evil, he didn’t know what he was doing. He was drunk.”
Kila said her dad was a hard worker who did everything to give them a good life.
“I miss my father and I think about him in positive ways,” she said. “It’s always difficult at anniversaries and birthdays when we know he should be there. He was one of those people who made you feel better when you were down. It’s comforting to hear people talk about it. I hope that he would be proud of me and what I’ve done. Forgiveness makes you stronger, I don’t get angry over small things anymore.”