A County Antrim man has been jailed for 14 years for the manslaughter of the three Quinn brothers in Ballymoney two years ago. 25-year-old Garfield Gilmour had been found guilty of the children's murders in a petrol bomb attack last October, but the verdict was overturned last week on appeal.
Richard Quinn aged eleven and his brothers Mark aged ten and nine-year-old Jason were burned to death in a fire following a petrol bomb attack on their house at Carnany Park in Ballymoney in the early hours of July 12, 1998. The attack was launched as tensions rose in the wake of the Orange Order stand-off at Drumcree. Garfield Gilmour from Newhill Park in the town, was found guilty of the three murders last October. But Lord Justice McCollum's verdict was overturned on appeal last week. The three appeal judges including the North's Lord Chief Justice Sir Robert Carswell, substituted a verdict of manslaughter.
Sentencing Gilmour to 14 years' jail, Sir Robert referred to adverse newspaper comment that the Appeal Court's decision had allegedly played down the threat posed by throwing petrol bombs into houses. He said that was a complete misunderstanding of their judgement. Lest there by any doubt, he said, the court made it clear they abominated attacks by petrol bombs on houses. He said they were resolved to bring the full weight of the law down on any person guilty of such a bombing. Gilmour's lawyer had earlier asked the judges to pass a sentence which reflected the fact that although the accused had driven the petrol bombers to the scene, it was only in the few seconds before the bomb was actually thrown that he knew their intentions.