Murder horror family anguish

By Jonathan McCambridge
Belfast Telegraph
28 March 2005

The sister of a father-of-two kicked to death in Belfast has spoken of her horror after she came face to face with a man accused of his murder in a shopping centre.

The family of Thomas Glen Venus from Ballysillan have hit out at the Northern Ireland courts for releasing suspects charged with murder as they wait for trial.

Mr Venus (28), a father of two, was discovered beaten and kicked near the Midland building on York St in north Belfast, almost a year ago. He had serious head injuries and died a short time later.

Four men were charged with his murder in April of last year. All four have been released on bail pending a preliminary inquiry and trial and are not allowed to go within two miles of Ballysillan or York Road railway station.

However, Thomas’ sister Julie Venus said the family could not cope with the fact that the men accused of killing her brother are walking the streets.

She said: “It is ridiculous. The police phoned us one day and told us that they were getting bail. We were told it was about protecting their human rights.

“Then this week my brother and I were shopping in the Abbeycentre when there he was, one of the men charged with Thomas’ murder – he walked right past us. He can go there because it is Newtownabbey, not Belfast.

“I did not know what to say or what to do. I was so angry that I just wanted to cry. It is horrendous that these people can be walking about the streets when Thomas is dead; how do you think that makes us feel?

“We do not even know what happened to Thomas; it is a year later and there has been no trial or inquest. All we know is that he drowned in his own blood after being kicked in the nose – we do not even have a death certificate for him.

“The police still have his jewellery and his clothes from the night he was killed; they also have kept part of his brain because of how he died, so we have not even been able to bury all of him.”

Thomas’ father Francie described how the murder of his son had had a devastating effect on all his family.

“I just feel that life is not worth living anymore. It has destroyed the lives of all of us because we want to know what happened to him.”