Heartbroken parents of young musician beaten to death say their lives ‘changed forever’


The devastated parents of a young musician who was beaten to death have told how their lives have been changed forever by the violent crime.

Gavin O’Connor, 22, died after his head was smashed in before he was run over by his own car nine years ago.

The young man was a guitarist with a local classic rock group.

His evil murderer Conor McClelland, who was 19 at the time of the killing and didn’t know Gavin, was handed a life sentence for the unprovoked attack.

The monster, from County Monaghan, in Ireland, came across Gavin asleep in his car in the early hours of June 4, 2011, in Carrickmacross, a town in the county. Both men were attending music festival in the town on that night.

He claims he stole the vehicle as Gavin slept unaware in the back seat.

McClelland told police that after Gavin woke up he repeatedly hit him over the head with rocks and when his victim got out on to the road he drove the car at him.

Shockingly, he admitted he did this to make the injuries look as if they were caused in a crash.

McClelland pleaded not guilty at his trial but was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

He has already been granted neutral venue visits, and will be eligible for his second parole hearing next spring.

Gavin’s heartbroken parents are asking for the 2019 Parole Act to be implemented to stop this.

Mum Helena told the Irish Sunday Mirror: “We feel we got the life sentence, and dread the day Connor McClelland will be released.

“Our lives changed for ever when Gavin was murdered and the brutality of it will come to the grave with us.”

Dad, Gerry, added: “What happened to Gavin is just unbearable. It was done by someone with no consideration for human life whatsoever.

“He can lie low now in a prison and be well fed and be out in no time, it’s just wrong. There are bad people in the world, this fella is pure evil.”

And Helena insisted McClelland should “never be allowed out” for what he did.

She added: “He didn’t even know Gavin. Nine years later we still don’t know what happened to him.

“Gavin left here on the Friday night – at first he had said he wasn’t going.

“As he was going out I got the terrible feeling he wasn’t coming back. I called him and said, ‘Gav do me a favour and look after yourself’ and he said, ‘I will mam’.

“And that was it until the next morning when his girlfriend rang me.

“The doctor said Gavin’s brain should have three or four different compartments but all he could see was mush.

“He said the only reason his heart was still beating was because he was so young.

“After Gavin died I remember thinking ‘when did I last tell him I love him?’”

Tragically the couple also lost their second son Patrick in a road traffic accident just two years later.

However Gavin’s music still lives on thanks to his dad Gerry who gave his equipment a new lease of life with the a band created in his memory, called The Reel Beats.