THE man who murdered Lurgan girl Bernadette Martin in July 1997 has been released from prison after serving just 15 years for her killing.
Trevor McKeown was sentenced to 22 years but it is believed he walked free from jail last Friday.
It was a murder that shocked the province - a teenage Catholic girl shot while she slept in her Protestant boyfriend Gordon Green’s arms.
Bernadette was at Gordon’s house in Aghalee when McKeown crept in to shoot her in the face.
She was murdered by the same gun that was used to kill Catholic taxi driver Michael McGoldrick during the Drumcree protests of 1996. Trevor’s brother Clifford is still in jail for Mr McGoldrick’s murder.
While Trevor McKeown has maintained his innocence, a court of appeal in 2008 threw out his appeals and it was judged he serve a minimum of 22 years including time spent on remand.
According to the NI Prison Service, Trevor McKeown was released in recent weeks but did not specify a day.
The Sentence Review Commission, which was set up after the Good Friday Agreement, no longer considers him a ‘danger to the community’.
Bernadette met Gordon Green at Avalon Foods, the food processing factory where they worked, and they had been going out together steadily since a Christmas party.
On the night of her murder, they had gone to Gordon’s house, where they often stayed, and ate with his sister, Wendy, who was close to Bernadette. They then fell asleep on his bed.
Bernadette clung to life for 12 hours after being shot, but sadly lost her battle for life.
Her wake was held at home and, despite her terrible facial injuries, her parents left her coffin open for friends to pay their last respects.
Laurence Martin, then 44, Bernadette’s father, pleaded for no retaliation. He said religion meant nothing to his daughter.
Two weeks before she died, she had asked him whether the IRA was Catholic or Protestant. Mr Martin, a father of six, said: “That says it all. That’s how little she knew about it.”
Just two months ago the Green family and Gordon put a memorial notice in the Lurgan Mail for her “(Bernie) Died tragically 15th July 1997. Always in our thoughts and lovingly remembered”.