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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK
Vigil to remember murder victim
Hundreds of people attended a vigil to remember Gavin Brett
Hundreds attended a vigil to remember Gavin Brett
The father of Gavin Brett, murdered in a sectarian shooting by loyalists has attended a vigil where his son was killed.

The 18-year-old was shot dead on the Hightown Road in Glengormley on Sunday night as he stood chatting to a group of Catholic and Protestant friends.

The Red Hand Defenders, a cover name which has been used in the past for the Ulster Defence Association and the Loyalist Volunteer Force, said it carried out the killing.

The RUC chief constable has said the police are investigating the possibility that the UDA murdered Mr Brett, as one of their lines of inquiry.

Hundreds attend vigil

On Tuesday evening hundreds of people gathered for a candlelit vigil at Glengormley at the spot where Gavin Brett was murdered.

Gavin Brett was murdered by loyalists on Sunday
Gavin Brett was murdered by loyalists on Sunday
Gavin's Brett's father Michael thanked the crowd for coming and said this was the start of the family's healing process.

Local parish priest Father Dan Whyte said it was a service for all the community.

He added that the numbers of people who had come showed how much Gavin would be missed.

He told the crowd: "The gunmen have nothing to offer. They are all losers. May God forgive them, because I know it is hard for us to do it at this time."

Father tried to save his son

Earlier on Tuesday, Michael Brett spoke publicly about his son's murder for the first time.

Mr Brett, a paramedic, has attended victims at the scenes of many acts of violence during the Troubles, including the August l998 Real IRA bombing of Omagh which left 29 people dead.

Michael Brett;
Michael Brett; "I was very, very proud of my son"
At a police news conference, he described how he had tried in vain to save his son's life when he was called to the scene of the shooting near their home.

"It was difficult to stop trying," he said.

Gavin had just finished high school and was waiting for his A-level results. He was hoping to work with computers.

Mr Brett said Gavin was a precocious, outgoing, friendly young man who had friends in both sections of the community.

But his promising future was ended by people his father said were just bigots.

"There wasn't one bigoted bone in his body and bigots took his life away," Mr Brett said.

'He was my mate'

"I was very, very proud of my son. Apart from being his dad he was my mate, my chum.

"People have asked me, did you bond well with your son? I bonded with my son when he was born 18 years ago and we were the best of mates."

Mr Brett said he had this message for son's killers: "I wonder do they realise the pain and the anguish they've caused my wife (Phyllis), Gavin's brother (Phillip) and sister (Tara) and relatives and friends."

He added: "Last night we had over 200 of Gavin's friends arrive with messages of support, which we greatly appreciated."

On Wednesday Gavin's Protestant and Catholic friends are expected to attend his funeral in Glengormley.

Appeal after car found

Meanwhile, the police have issued an appeal for information about a car believed to have been used by the gunmen.

RUC district commander for the area Superintendent Bertie Verner said it was believed two gunmen may have been involved in the shooting.

He appealed for anyone who saw a Vauxhall car driving in a reckless manner after the shooting to contact police.

A similar dark blue Vauxhall Nova car was found burnt out behind shops in the loyalist New Mossley estate after the murder.

The BBC's Julian Fowler
"His promising future was ended by loyalist gunmen"
See also:

31 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
'Bigots murdered my son'
30 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Father's frantic efforts to save son
30 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
RUC chief condemns 'sectarian' murder
31 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Loyalist violence threat to peace
30 Jul 01 | Northern Ireland
Trimble: Call off loyalist violence
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