Cameron Reilly’s family have opened up about how their “world collapsed” when Aaron Connolly murdered the teenager in Co Louth four years ago.
In a statement on behalf of the family about the impact of the sacrifice, Cameron’s uncle Darren Flanagan said the four saddest words in the English language are “what could have been”.
This is something they always questioned, he said, adding that while the trial is over, it’s never over for the family.
“We were sentenced to life imprisonment the day Cameron was taken from us,” he told the Central Criminal Court today.
“Our hearts were broken, our world collapsed.”
Mr Flanagan said the family were never able to say goodbye to Cameron, give him “one last hug” or be with him as he breathed his last.
He described the Dundalk Institute of Technology student as a “gentle child” who “didn’t give anyone a moment’s trouble”.
He told the court that Cameron loved music and went to numerous concerts with his friends. He was an “easygoing” boy with “absolutely no harm in himself”.
The teenager’s uncle said the day before his death Cameron was in brilliant shape because he had just been asked to godfather to his new cousin.
But just a day later, her life changed forever and the family planned a funeral rather than a christening, Mr Flanagan said.
The family is still haunted by the image of “Cameron’s lifeless body lying on a cold lifeless slab”.
He himself is still haunted by the words of Cameron’s mother Tracy at the time: “What did you do to my beautiful child?”
Cameron is more than just a media name, Mr Flanagan told the court. He was a son, a grandson, a cousin, a nephew, and “so much more than that.”
“Our beautiful son. Forever 18.”
Judge Tony Hunt today handed down a mandatory life sentence to Aaron Connolly, 23, saying the accused is young enough to use his life if he emerges from custody but Cameron Reilly will “never get out of where Mr Connolly has him.” turned on that night”.
Connolly, of Willistown, Drumcar, Co. Louth, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Cameron Reilly, 18, on May 26, 2018 at Shamrock Hill, Dunleer.
A jury unanimously found him guilty of murder on December 15, after just over 10.5 hours of deliberation.
Mr Reilly, a student at Dundalk Institute of Technology, had met up with a group of around 15 friends in a field outside the city on the night of May 25, 2018. Some of the group went to a local diner for a quick bite after midnight before he and Connolly returned to the field.
The teenager’s body was found the next morning in a field near Shamrock Hill by a man walking his dog.
A post-mortem performed by Chief State Pathologist Linda Mulligan showed Mr Reilly’s cause of death was asphyxia due to external pressure on the neck with no other contributing factors.
During the trial, the court heard that in his first testimony to Gardaí, Connolly said he and Mr Reilly went in different directions at the end of the night and after the two parted he “never looked back” to see which way Cameron went.
In his Garda interviews, Connolly said he couldn’t remember what he was doing during a “missing hour” the night Cameron Reilly died violently from taking a combination of drugs that rendered him unconscious.
He told Gardaí: “I know I didn’t kill him, I would know if I had killed someone.”
Connolly told investigators he had taken cocaine and MDMA.
The jury also heard Connolly deny that anything sexual had happened between him and Mr Reilly, telling Gardaí he was “heterosexual”.
However, during the trial, Connolly’s lawyers officially admitted in court that the defendant had oral sex with Mr Reilly on the night he was killed. Connolly claimed that Mr Reilly was alive and standing when he left.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/our-world-collapsed-family-of-cameron-reilly-speak-out-as-killer-aaron-connolly-is-jailed-for-life-42232824.html ‘Our world has collapsed’ – Cameron Reilly’s family speaks out as killer Aaron Connolly is sentenced to life in prison