Knifed to death...

Colin was young, sweet-na­tured… and the wrong man. Yet when the un­der­world came look­ing for a vic­tim, he met a grue­some death…

Real People - - CONTENTS -

By mis­take

When does life re­ally be­gin? Is it the mo­ment you’re born, blink­ing gunky eyes open into the light of the world for the very first time? Or around three or four, when mem­o­ries first start to stick?

Maybe 18, when you can legally en­joy a pint, or 21, by which time you have an idea of who you re­ally are. You’re an adult. No bones about it. Colin Mcginty was right at that ten­der age in spring 2001.

A keen foot­baller with bright blue eyes and cheeky, youth­ful good looks, Colin was pop­u­lar with lads and ladies alike.

His sis­ter Laura, 18, joked that she got a dif­fer­ent one of her mates to cop off with Colin each week on nights out so he’d fund their drinks for the even­ing.

Colin had a good job as a joiner at the Royal Liver­pool Hospi­tal. He could af­ford to let his hair down.

Grow­ing up in the posh Blun­dell­sands area of Mersey­side, his par­ents had worked hard to raise their five chil­dren well. The Mcginty kids had a nice home and went to good schools. They’d raised Colin to be a sweet, good­hearted lad who was en­joy­ing his life with his many mates.

On the night of 22 March, 2001, Colin was out with pals

Terry Ran­dall and Alan Whe­lan at Sul­li­van’s Wine Bar in Boo­tle. Just a stone’s throw from Liver­pool, the Boo­tle of that day was one of the poor­est ar­eas in the coun­try and had high lev­els of un­em­ploy­ment. Ar­rests and trou­ble were com­mon.

Two-year-old James Bul­ger had been ab­ducted from the town’s New Strand shop­ping cen­tre with tragic con­se­quences just eight years be­fore. The new, im­proved and ex­pen­sively re­gen­er­ated Strand Road, with its huge Asda and as­so­ci­ated job prospects, was still another seven years away.

At 1.40am, the lads left the bar and walked onto Boo­tle’s streets. They planned to get a taxi back home but de­cided to walk on a bit.

An hour later, they were still walk­ing along nearby, look­ing for a ride. Sud­denly, a dark grey VW Golf pulled up along­side them.

But this wasn’t a friendly taxi driver look­ing to of­fer a lift. It was trou­ble.

A gang of four men jumped out and made for the lads. No doubt ter­ri­fied, Colin and his friends fled. They split up. Colin’s mates ran off and hid un­der some bushes. Know­ing the area well, Colin ran for an al­ley­way down the back of a pub.

He went to jump over a wall but de­spite be­ing young, fit and sporty, it wasn’t enough. Colin’s at­tack­ers were on him and he was stabbed mer­ci­lessly with at least two knives, over and over.

Eleven of the 15 stab wounds were to his back. Four of these – those that punc­tured his left lung, right lung, spleen and liver – would’ve been fa­tal on their own. To­gether, Colin stood no chance.

The young lad was found still con­scious, slumped on the street in Marsh Lane. He was rushed to Liver­pool’s Faza­k­er­ley hospi­tal.

His par­ents, Geral­dine and Peter, were called and rushed to his side. Colin begged his dad not to leave him be­fore he was taken for emer­gency surgery.

Sur­geons couldn’t stop the bleed­ing and he suf­fered a heart at­tack as a re­sult of his in­juries. He died that same day.

His tight-knit fam­ily was heart­bro­ken. His sis­ter Laura re­mem­bered dry­ing her hair that morn­ing when her grief-stricken par­ents re­turned home and broke the news. Colin was a good lad, well brought up and po­lite. How on earth had he got caught up in some­thing so sense­less and grue­some as a street at­tack?

Gangs in Liver­pool and the sur­round­ing area are noth­ing new. In the ’80s, the me­dia dubbed it ‘Smack City’ when an ex­plo­sion in or­gan­ised crime flooded the streets with heroin.

Drug car­tels sprang up. Along with them, vi­cious turf wars. Liver­pool’s gang­sters hit the head­lines and in 1996, Mersey­side Po­lice be­came one of the first forces in the coun­try to openly carry weapons in a bid to tackle es­ca­lat­ing gang vi­o­lence.

But stab­bings and trou­ble had al­ways been a thing that hap­pened to other peo­ple. Colin’s fam­ily had to won­der – did they not know who Colin was? Had he been mixed up in some­thing?

With no mo­tive for the killing, po­lice were also at a loss as to why this mur­der had hap­pened. But they quickly nabbed those re­spon­si­ble.

Four days af­ter Colin died, po­lice tracked the Golf’s owner. His name was Michael Brown.

Brown, 21, and his friend, 23-year-old Gary Hamp­ton, were ar­rested driv­ing in con­voy be­hind his car, the sus­pect Golf, as a friend drove it to be auc­tioned. It had been valeted clean.

Brown and Hamp­ton were close mates who worked to­gether as door­men in the pubs and clubs around Liver­pool. They’d been in Sul­li­van’s that night, hired to guard the valu­able record col­lec­tion of guest DJ John Lynch Jnr.

For Colin’s fam­ily, the dis­cov­ery was ter­ri­fy­ing. Both Brown and Hamp­ton had a his­tory of vi­o­lence.

‘Colin had been at­tacked by very dan­ger­ous peo­ple and [we] wor­ried for our own safety… Po­lice dis­cussed the Liver­pool un­der­world with us and I did not know what they were talk­ing about,’ Colin’s sis­ter Laura said.

She added, ‘We were such a de­cent fam­ily and were be­ing ex­posed to peo­ple from a side of the city we did not un­der­stand.’

He was stabbed over and over again

It was con­cluded the likely mo­tive for the at­tack was mis­taken iden­tity. They’d sim­ply thought Colin was some­one else.

On trial at Liver­pool Crown Court in Oc­to­ber 2001, the two men both de­nied mur­der. They claimed they didn’t know Colin and that they’d got back to Brown’s home by around 2am.

But a wit­ness had seen four men at­tack­ing Colin. As they’d got back in the Golf and driven off, he’d taken a note of the li­cence plate. It was Michael Brown’s car. The jury found both men guilty of mur­der. It was then re­vealed that it wasn’t the men’s first time in the court. In Au­gust 2000, both had been ac­quit­ted of at­tempted mur­der fol­low­ing an at­tack on a man at another pub that in­volved 15 as­sailants with knives and ba­tons. Brown had been con­victed of in­cite­ment to in­flict griev­ous bod­ily harm.

Hamp­ton had a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion for car­ry­ing a flick knife and two for as­sault.

For Colin’s mur­der, both were jailed for life to serve a min­i­mum term of 18 years each. Af­ter the trial, Det Supt Russ Walsh praised Colin’s rel­a­tives, say­ing, ‘I have to pay trib­ute to the vic­tim’s fam­ily. They were in court ev­ery day and have acted with great courage and dig­nity through­out.’

He then added, ‘This in­quiry is not over, be­cause there are still two of­fend­ers out­stand­ing.’

But there were never any fur­ther con­vic­tions. Even with­out catch­ing the other at­tack­ers, it wasn’t the end of the or­deal for Colin’s fam­ily.

The killers dragged them back to court and got a two-year re­duc­tion on their sen­tences. Then, in 2014, they ap­plied to be moved to an open prison.

Once again, Colin’s par­ents came out fight­ing for jus­tice for their son. They ap­peared at the pa­role hear­ing via vide­olink to make a heart­felt state­ment about the im­pact of Colin’s mur­der on their fam­ily. Once they’d spo­ken, Judge Gra­ham White had the video feed switched off on the court­room end.

The judge then turned to some­one else in the court­room.

‘I feel so very sorry for these fam­i­lies. They make these state­ments think­ing they are go­ing to make a dif­fer­ence, but they make no dif­fer­ence at all,’ he said. The judge was un­aware that the Mcgin­tys could still hear ev­ery­thing. Geral­dine and Peter were un­der­stand­ably hor­ri­fied.

The judge later apol­o­gised and said his com­ments had come as vic­tim im­pact state­ments can­not be used when as­sess­ing an of­fender’s po­ten­tial risk.

The Mcgin­tys were as­sured of their im­por­tance in the jus­tice pro­cess.

Yet Colin’s par­ents were ‘among the last to hear’ when, af­ter all that, the killers’ ap­pli­ca­tion was ap­proved and they were moved to an open prison the fol­low­ing year.

It was yet another twist of the knife.

This May, Colin should be turn­ing 40. Only two of the four men who

at­tacked him have ever seen jus­tice. Yet...

‘Our fam­ily is still strong and still to­gether,’ said Laura. Colin is still very much a part of that.

Feel­ing a birth­day party wouldn’t be right with­out Colin there to cel­e­brate, his fam­ily are cel­e­brat­ing this missed mile­stone with char­i­ta­ble works.

Laura and more than 60 friends will be run­ning a half marathon later this month to raise funds for char­ity and to in­crease aware­ness about knife crime. The fam­ily

are sup­port­ing the No More Knives and Real Men Don’t Carry Knives cam­paigns. They plan to hold knife crime aware­ness days in Mersey­side schools, and last month, Old­ham Ath­letic wore shirts with In Mem­ory of Colin Mcginty

em­bla­zoned on the back for their pre-match warmup.

His young life may have been lost for no rea­son at all, but his loved ones are de­ter­mined his sense­less mur­der will have pur­pose in sav­ing oth­ers.

But there is still a moun­tain to climb. Knife crime in Mersey­side nearly dou­bled be­tween 2013 and 2018. Last year, nine more peo­ple lost their lives to knives on Mersey­side’s streets.

But Colin’s loved ones keep cam­paign­ing against this wave of tragedy in his mem­ory. His was a life just be­gin­ning and one his fam­ily will never for­get.

Chil­dren walk past the scene of the stab­bing

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