Shock and anger as youth is killed by stolen vehicle

THE distraught parents of 17-year-old Trevor O'Connell, the Cork youth who died in a hit-and-run incident in the city on Monday…

THE distraught parents of 17-year-old Trevor O'Connell, the Cork youth who died in a hit-and-run incident in the city on Monday evening, described their son yesterday as an innocent youngster.

He had lost his life because of yet another stolen car escapade on Cork's northside. Last month an 11-year-old boy from the area, Christopher O'Flynn, was killed when a stolen car in which he was a passenger went out of control.

In their home at Park Lawn, Parklands, in Fairhill, Mr Joseph O'Connell and his wife, Jennie, wept as they described how they had heard of their son's death.

Trevor and his friend, Stephen Kirby (17), who lives in the same locality, had gone to a local fish-and-chip shop and were walking on a wide footpath back to the O'Connell home when they were struck by a car travelling at speed at about 9.30 p.m. on Monday.


Trevor O'Connell died at the spot. His friend is on a life support machine at Cork University Hospital. The stolen car crashed into a low wall opposite Larchfield Terrace, not far from Park Lawn. The driver and an accomplice escaped across fields.

Yesterday floral tributes lined the foot path at the scene.

Last month, Christopher O'Flynn (11), who lived in of Churchfield, died when a stolen car in which he had accepted a lift went out of control and overturned. The 15-year-old driver of that car is still recovering from his injuries.

Mr O'Connell told The Irish Times that he heard the news when the hackney firm for which he works advised him to return home immediately.

"I got a call telling me to go back home. I think that was about 20 minutes after it happened. Jennie is devastated. What can I say? Neither myself nor his brothers can believe it. Trevor was at home, and then, 45 minutes later, we find that he's dead. Dead - and he was walking innocently on the footpath after buying a bag of chips. It's unreal.

"Trevor was a keen soccer player all his life and he had been on a `high' lately because he had just heard from his manager at the Leeds club in Ballyvolane, where he played, that scouts from Derby County had been over having a look at him and that next season they were planning to bring him to the UK for a trial with the youth side. He would have been 18 on his next birthday.

"He was over the moon at the prospect of going to Derby - that kind of thing is a dream come true for a young fellow like Trevor - and the funny thing is that he didn't have a clue about the scouts watching him," Mr O'Connell said.

He added that his son had been on a work experience programme at St John's College, near where he lived, and hoped to become a motor mechanic.

The dead boy's mother said she was devastated. "I just cannot believe this has happened. They only went to get chips. They were on the footpath walking home. How could this happen? He was a beautiful boy."

"I can't understand it," she added, too overcome to discuss the tragedy any further.

The O'Connells have three other sons, Jim (26), Derek (24) and George (22).

Neighbours were shocked when they heard that another death had occurred on the north side of Cork, almost a month to the day after the death of Christopher O'Flynn.

Mrs Mary Roche, who lives across the road from the O'Connells, said her son, Connor (18), and Trevor O'Connell had been best friends, playing soccer together for many years.

Trevor was so laid back. I would call him a gentle giant. The whole neighbourhood is in mourning. At four o'clock this morning there were still youngsters gathered outside my house. They were crying. Everyone is so shocked.

"I am sick and tired of telephoning the Garda about this kind of thing. Yet I don't blame them. The public must push for tougher anti-car theft measures. That might make a difference," she added.