Lost Boys documentary on 'missing children' of the Troubles to premiere

Producer Ed Stobart and director Des Henderson

A NEW documentary claiming that British intelligence may have protected those involved in the abduction and murder of children in Belfast during the Troubles is set to premiere next week.

Directed by Des Henderson, Lost Boys: Belfast’s Missing Children is billed as "fresh investigative journalism uncovering an extraordinary tale of child disappearances and murder, MI5 interference, witchcraft and potential cover-up".



The Alleycats Films production features contributions from criminologist Robert Giles, journalist Martin Dillon and investigative reporter Chris Moore, who delve into possible links between five Belfast children who went missing from 1969 to 1974 and a network of paedophiles operating in the city, several of whom had connections to the infamous Kincora Boys' Home and loyalist paramilitaries.

David Leckey (11) and Jonathan Aven (14) disappeared in September 1969 after playing truant from school in east Belfast, while Thomas Spence (11) and John Rodgers (13) were last sighted at a bus stop on the Falls Road in November 1974.

Alice Rodgers pictured in 2009 with the 'Missing' poster for her son, John, and his friend Thomas Spence, who disappeared in 1974. Picture by Bill Smyth


Eleven-year-old Brian McDermott was last seen in Ormeau Park on September 2 1973. His mutilated remains were later found in a sack in the River Lagan at Annadale Embankment.

No-one was ever arrested in connection with Brian McDermott's murder, or any of the other four boys' disappearances: the film-makers make the case that British intelligence may have interfered with the police investigations in order to protect 'assets' who were known paedophiles.

The documentary will premiere in Dublin on Wednesday September 27 at the Irish Film Institute and at Odeon Belfast on Thursday September 28 in partnership with Docs Ireland.

Read more:

Lost Boys: Belfast's Missing Children will premiere next week

A synopsis for the film states:

"During the winter of 1969, young boys started to disappear from the streets of Belfast, never to be seen again. By 1974, as the Troubles were reaching a bloody and vicious peak, five boys in total had vanished within a five-mile radius. The remains of only one, 11-year-old Brian McDermott, were found.

"Fifty years later, as the disappearances remain unsolved and families continue to search for answers, filmmaker Des Henderson (How to Defuse A Bomb: The Project Children Story) reopens these largely forgotten cold-cases, talking to fresh witnesses, and unearthing disturbing revelations in secret state documents. Could all five disappearances be linked with each other?

"The film explores every lead to try and find out what may have happened to these young boys. For every stone the team turns over, it becomes clearer that dark forces are at play on an incomprehensible scale.

"Deep state cover-up sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theory, but this investigation poses some troubling questions. The documentary asks if the state knew more than has been revealed, or even worse, if it was complicit in some way."

Lost Boys: Belfast's Missing Children will premiere next week

Speaking ahead of the Lost Boys: Belfast’s Missing Children premiere, Des Henderson said:

“When we set out to make this documentary, we knew we were dealing with a sensitive subject matter. Little did we know as we started to investigate, we would find such a sinister set of circumstances surrounding the disappearance of five young boys within the same area.

Producer Ed Stobart and director Des Henderson

“Due to the nature of the revelations in the documentary: there have been many twists and turns in the completion of the film.

“It has been 50 years since the boys went missing, so we feel like it is now or never for their story to be heard. At the time there was concerningly little media coverage of what had happened, and the boys seemed to disappear from the public’s mind just as quickly as they had from the street.”

“It is unlikely that the boys will ever have justice, given how long ago these crimes took place, but the least we can do is try to expose the truth surrounding their disappearance, and who may have been involved.”


Producer Ed Stobart and director Des Henderson


Producer, Ed Stobart, added: “It has taken five years of intense investigation to get the film to screen, and along the way we have amassed a huge body of evidence around some of the Troubles’ darkest remaining secrets, many of which extend beyond the cases we set out to investigate.

“From what we have found, especially around the Kincora Boys' Home scandal, there is much more to be told about the 'dirty war' than is fully in the public domain. The security services, MI5 in particular, have a lot of questions to answer.

“The suffering experienced by the families of the missing and murdered boys, and all those who were abused on an almost industrial scale in Kincora, must have been unimaginable. We hope that this film might aid any process that brings them some measure of justice.”

Look out for in-depth interviews with the film-makers behind Lost Boys: Belfast's Missing Children in The Irish News next week.