Page last updated at 12:29 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 13:29 UK

Thirty years for teenager murders

David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb were killed in February 2000
David McIlwaine and Andrew Robb were killed in February 2000

A man has been jailed for at least 30 years for the murders of two teenagers in County Armagh nine years ago.

28-year-old Steven Leslie Brown, also known as Steven Revels, murdered David McIlwaine, 18, and Andrew Robb, 19, in February 2000.

On Friday, the judge said they "ranked amongst the most gruesome murders of the past 40 years in Northern Ireland".

Outside court, the father of David McIlwaine said he believed other people were involved in the death of his son.

Paul McIlwaine added that he had asked for a meeting with Steven Brown.

"I have requested to visit him in prison," said Mr McIlwaine.

"I want him to sit down, if he is willing, and talk to me about the involvement of everybody else."

Mr McIlwaine also said that, while he felt the sentence was too lenient, Brown "got exactly what he deserves", adding the double killer's lack of remorse was "his downfall."

Andrew Robb's mother, Anne, said that justice "has been done".

"I think it has been done, yes, but I think he should have got the full life term because I have been given a full life term," she said.

'Mindless violence'

The judge, Mr Justice Gillen, said the murders were "cold-blooded and barbaric".

He told Brown: "The post-mortems on the bodies of these two teenagers bear silent testimony to the sadistic manner in which you and your accomplice brought about their deaths.

"These crimes were so horrendous that they offered no insight into human nature or the recurring pattern of human behaviour.

"Civilised reason can furnish no explanation for them. They represent unbridled mindless violence and total disregard for the value and dignity of human life."

Much of the evidence in the trial came from Mark Burcombe, who was present when the teenagers were killed.

Burcombe, from Ballynahinch Road in Lisburn, was initially charged with the murders, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge after agreeing to give evidence against Brown.

He was jailed in 2008 for two-and-a-half-years.

The murder trial heard that Andrew Robb and David McIlwaine were drinking with Brown, Burcombe and Noel Dillon, who has since killed himself.

'Horrific injuries'

Andrew Robb is said to have made disparaging remarks about Richard Jameson, the alleged UVF commander, gunned down by the LVF two weeks previously.

A Crown lawyer said Brown "took unkindly" to the remarks, and drove the group to an isolated country road outside Tandragee where the friends were repeatedly stabbed, suffering horrific injuries to their throats and stomachs.

Giving evidence to the court, Burcombe claimed he saw Brown repeatedly stab David McIlwaine as he lay on the ground and, that afterwards, Brown threatened that if he told anyone, he would cut Burcombe's throat.

Burcombe admitted he had not told the police the whole truth when he first came forward in November 2005, after the murders were featured in the BBC's Crimewatch programme, but denied he was lying to cover up his own role.

He also denied suggestions by Brown's defence that he made up his testimony at the behest of the UVF in order to frame Brown.

The prosecution case against Brown also included a "confession" to a woman known only as witness F, and forensic evidence showing that two tyre tread marks at the scene of the murders matched two tyres on Brown's Peugeot 205 car.

It was also said that pieces of green plastic found at the scene matched the top of an aerosol canister found outside Brown's house; and Brown's DNA was found on David McIlwaine's jacket.

Neither teenager was connected to any paramilitary group.



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SEE ALSO
Double killer fails in impact bid
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Man found guilty of double murder
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Remark 'led' to double killing
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