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Facebook appeal for murdered Ballykelly teen

Seamus McKinney

An online appeal has been launched to help track down the killers of a Co Derry teenager 16 years after his murder.

Jonathan Cairns (18) was found buried in a shallow grave at Loughermore Forest hours after he failed to return to his home at Ballykelly in April 1999.

Hours earlier, his mother and father, Hazel and Raymond Cairns waved at their son as they passed him in Ballykelly following a Saturday night out. The first indication that something was wrong was when his blood-stained clothes were found in a school playground behind the family home.

While one man received a five-year sentence for helping to hide Jonathan's body, no-one has ever been convicted of his murder.

Now the teenager's family and friends have launched a Facebook page to highlight the 1999 murder in the hope that new evidence can be found. “Justice for Jonathan Cairns” contains pictures of the murder victim and other information.

Hazel Cairns said she is still angry that her son was taken from her.

“He was a good boy and all his family loved him,” she said.

The police officer leading the investigation, John McVea believes Jonathan's killers were from the Ballykelly area. Detective Chief Inspector McVea urged anyone with information to come forward.

A £30,000 reward for information leading to a prosecution offered some years ago is still in place.

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