Andrew Lorimer was a son, a brother, a gentle giant with a droll sense of humour and a real charmer with the ladies.
But after he was killed last year, his true personality and character have been in the shadow of what the perpetrators said in court.
It’s been well over a year, February 3, 2012, but the horror of his murder is as agonising as when Andrew’s family first heard.
His eldest brother David and wife Julie and the entire Lorimer family have been left devastated by his murder.
Allegations were made in court that Andrew had been kicked and beaten with a hammer in a suspected homophobic attack. Police heard various stories from the defendants including one that a pornographic movie was being shown and it was claimed that Andrew made a suggestive remark to one of the defendants.
But the Lorimer family are adamant that Andrew was definitely not gay.
David explained that Andrew had just split up with his wife the year before he was killed and had been very down.
“He had found it difficult to cope and had gotten himself into a rut. He had lost his home, he had lost his wife, he had lost the children he helped to raise,” said Julie, David’s wife.
“That is why he ended up down there (Portlec Place). He hated it. He would have come round here during the week and watched football. I would ask him to come early to make him his tea as I knew he wasn’t looking after himself.”
David said: “At the time of his death we thought he was just turning the corner.”
He explained that Andrew was big into Duke of Edinburgh. “He was a great canoeist and had arranged to go that Saturday morning to take the youth canoeing. On Saturday (February 4) he was due to take a canoe instruction class.
“He rang here on the Friday night about 5pm and he was absolutely dosed with an old flu/cold. He said he was going to bed with a Lemsip. He felt rotten and he was going to phone his mate and tell him that he couldn’t make it the next morning,” said Julie.
“David supports Liverpool and Andrew was a Spurs man and Spurs were playing Liverpool on the Monday night and he asked to come round to watch the match. He was talking to David on the phone and that is the way we left the arrangements,” she said.
“That was the last time I was talking to him,” said David.
David is the eldest and has another brother Philip. He believes their mother Marian’s strong Christian values have helped her cope with the horror of losing her son.
“When Andrew was younger, I would have always protected him, stood up for him. He was always my wee brother, even though he was towering over me,” said David.
“He was very tall, a gentle giant,” said Julie.
She recalled when Andrew visited their home around three weeks before he was murdered.
“He told me he was really unhappy where he was living. He said during the week it was grand. It was really quiet but come the weekend, the noise and the comings and goings is wild. I told him to open the door and tell them to go away, but he said he wouldn’t ever open the door as you never know what is going to meet you.
“Andrew was very non-confrontational. He never swore. He never gossiped or talked about people. It just wasn’t in him. Andrew was very meek and mild. No one has the right to beat anyone to a pulp,” said Julie.
“But the victims, we don’t have a voice. You are not allowed an opinion.”
She recalled how it had been her son Jack’s 18th birthday that Saturday and they had had a normal family birthday party. On the Sunday they were organising a family dinner when Julie’s daughter said a body had been found in Portlec Place.
“I told David to go and get Andrew to get him out of the road. He went out of the house and was back in less than six minutes and he ran into the bathroom. I said: ‘David what’s wrong?’ and he said: ‘I think it’s our Andrew’.
The police took them to the station.
“They wouldn’t let us see him. We tried to describe him but at that stage we didn’t even know our own names.”
Julie said she was worried that David’s mum didn’t know. “We went looking for her and that night of all nights she wasn’t at St John’s Church. She was at the Salvation Army Hall and she was going to give her Testimony. We had to bring her out. She just looked straight at me and asked, ‘Is my Andrew dead?’”
“And the days not knowing and not being able to bury him. Everybody was in shock.
“Marion was his mother all his life and all of a sudden she didn’t have any place or any rights. I think that’s what’s hard. You are stripped of everything. He doesn’t belong to you anymore,” said Julie.
David said: “Nobody believes a word of what they said in court. Our Andrew never even said a swear word. He was well liked and everybody had time for him.”
“He was definitely not gay,” David insisted.
“He was a charmer and loved the ladies,” said Julie.
Regarding the allegations that there was pornography at Andrew’s flat and that he was gay, Julie said: “It’s bad enough what they did. Do they have to dance on his grave?”
“He’s not here to stand up for himself. We are the only people who can speak for him. He’s my wee brother and I loved him and he’s not here no more. He was only 43 years of age. He was only a young lad still,” said David.
“We miss him every day. My mum is in bits over him. There was no more a loved son than Andrew. Mum still calls him the child. He is very very sadly missed. No matter what has been written about him, he was a son and a brother. He was a link in a family and that link has gone. But everything else is overriding that.”
The Lorimer family have been overwhelmed by the support of the community and have been inundated with calls and messages of support which they are eternally grateful for.
“When David’s mum first read the allegations these boys made, she wouldn’t come out of the house. She was mortified. But no matter what anybody is, and this is the bit that gets lost, nobody has the right to do that,” he said.
The family feel Andrew has been misrepresented and let down very badly.
“Nobody wants to read the truth, they just want to read filth,” said Julie.
“We have been left devastated by what has happened,” said David. “I haven’t been able to even grieve for him yet.”
Christopher Wright (22) who had been staying at Mount Zion House, Richard Chester(23) of no fixed abode and James Jordan (29) from Princes Street in Lurgan had been due to go on trial for the murder of Andrew Lorimer however all pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges last week.
Mr Justice Weir adjourned passing sentence until November.