herald

Monday 11 December 2017

'My John's killers have stains on their souls', says devastated mum

Monica Butler, whose son John was shot dead in 2002
Monica Butler, whose son John was shot dead in 2002

A heartbroken mother has issued a fresh plea for information about the brutal murder of her only son following a fast food outlet row over a €2 bag of chips.

Monica Butler vowed she will never cease campaigning for justice for John (20), who died in his fiancee's arms after being shot on a Cork street in an unprovoked attack in 2002.

"He was killed after a row about a bag of chips," she said.

"I will never stop campaigning for justice for my John. They [the killers] will never be allowed to forget the terrible thing they did that night.

"They took John's life and they destroyed my family."

Monica's appeal came as she prepares to mark the 15th anniversary of her son's murder.

Despite a courageous campaign for justice, no one has ever been convicted of a killing that shocked Cork.

John was gunned down on October 7, 2002, just minutes after the minor disagreement.

The 20-year old - a keen soccer player with Blarney United - was walking home with his fiancee Rachel after a night out.

He thought nothing of the row in the fast food outlet and walked on. However, a short time later, a man ran out from a side road and shot him at point-blank range with a shotgun.

John's courageous final act was to push his Rachel - the mother of his son, Jamie - to safety.

He died in her arms in a pool of blood while awaiting the paramedics.

Despite a major garda investigation, no one has been convicted of the savage killing.

Complex legal issues meant that even John's coroner's inquest had to return a narrative verdict rather than a ruling of unlawful killing.

Conscience

Monica has fought tirelessly to get justice for her son and has written repeatedly to successive Ministers for Justice and Directors of Public Prosecutions.

She is again appealing for information in the hope that someone's conscience may be bothering them.

Monica is determined to continue her campaign for justice and said that, if necessary, she is prepared to take her case to the European Court of Justice.

Her determination is further galvanised by the fact her husband, John Snr, devastated at the death of his only son, took his own life in 2006.

"He was 59 and the nicest man you'd ever meet. We tried to carry on as best we could, but John could take no more - his heart was absolutely broken," she said.

In a further tragedy, one of John's best friends, similarly distraught over what happened, also took his own life.

"Our lives were over in 2002 when John was murdered. They [the killers] are not people. But if they live to be 100 years, they will never be able to wash young blood off their hands," she said.

"They will be on their deathbeds some day and they will be looking at young blood on their hands - they cannot wash it off.

"They cannot ignore what they did that night. They have stains on their souls that they cannot hide."

Monica, who has been supported by her devoted sister Catherine, said she will not rest until someone is held accountable for her son's killing.

"We still haven't had justice for John. If I want to see my son or my husband, I have to go to St Michael's Cemetery, she said.

"They took my whole family from me so I won't rest until I get justice and the truth is told about what happened."

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