herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

'Baby Lyla has filled the void in my heart 10 years after Anthony's murder'

Christine Campbell with baby granddaughter Lyla
Christine Campbell with baby granddaughter Lyla

The loving mother of innocent gangland murder victim Anthony Campbell has revealed "a void" inside her heart has been filled with the arrival of her first baby step-granddaughter.

Christine Campbell (49) left her Dublin home after enduring years of heartbreak over her son's killers never being brought to justice following his gun murder in 2006.

She told the Herald that although she normally dreads Christmas - because Anthony (20) was brutally murdered on December 12 while working as an apprentice plumber - this festive season will be finally filled with joy.

Devastation

Christine has become a grandmother for the first time - after baby Lyla was born just 12 weeks ago - years after she came to terms with the realisation that she would never get to hold her son's child.

"I feel like my granddaughter Lyla has filled a void in my heart that has been missing since I lost my Anthony," Christine told the Herald.

Anthony was working on a radiator in a Finglas home, unaware that it was a hideout for criminal Martin 'Marlo' Hyland, when gunmen burst in and shot the crimelord and Anthony, fearing he may identify them.

"This pain will never go away but for the first time since Anthony was murdered I will not absolutely dread Christmas because I have someone very special in this beautiful girl to help me be happy at the time of year when I lost my son."

Although Christine will "never forget her son," she said this is the first time she has felt true and unconditional love again after losing Anthony.

"Though I have gained something special back from loving this little girl, it will never replace what I lost when Anthony was taken from me," she said.

Nurse Christine has endured years of torment knowing who her son's killers are - but a wall of silence in the community has blocked them from ever paying for their merciless act of hate.

Innocent: Anthony Campbell was executed by gang killers
Innocent: Anthony Campbell was executed by gang killers

"I've never got justice for Anthony, so I'm always walking with that shadow, walking through that haze," she said.

"I don't believe we will get justice, it's gone on too long - nothing has been done. No one will open up about the murder. So it's become a cold case.

"I know where those responsible are. I don't know what will happen unless someone confesses and I don't believe anyone will confess to the murder of a young, innocent man.

"I've never got over Anthony, I've had to learn to live with it.

"It doesn't feel like 10 years - it is what it is, it's there it will always be there, the fact that Anthony was murdered."

In July, Christine, who now lives in Yorkshire with her husband Mark (52), returned to Dublin to visit Anthony's graveside with her family. Together, they marked what would have been his 30th birthday.

"It should have been a sombre occasion but because there was a blessing going on at another grave, the cemetery was filled with people and there was a happy atmosphere," she said.

"I was so glad about that because it was Anthony's birthday.

"I'm not looking forward to the tenth anniversary of my son's murder, how could I be, but this year I will have Lyla with me, my husband and my new family with me. That will help me get through it.

"I think about Anthony everyday and sometimes I feel he pushes me on, gives me strength.

"I learned to live without my son because I had to and I know Anthony would be so happy I have a new family but I still think of him every single day.

"I'm definitely getting that bond I loved of having with a child but it's the bond of a grandmother, it's a different love to the one I had as a mother.

"Just looking in to her beautiful blue eyes, cradling her, it's heaven and it's filled my heart so full of love," Christine added.

Joy

She told how the blue-eyed baby girl, daughter to her husband's daughter, even cries when Mark takes the infant from her arms.

"She loves me cradling her and I get so much joy from that," Christine said.

"It's the most special thing in the world, holding a baby again.

"I am loving looking at Mark with her. He is totally besotted and we have a child to share as grandparents, something I never thought I'd have again.

"All I knew after I lost Anthony was my chance of being a grandmother was gone - so this was as beautiful surprise for me.

"Of course there will always be that missing link but I'm in a better place - I have a little child to put something good in to and I can be the best granny," she said.

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