'I wish they had shot me instead' - Mum

'I wish they had shot me instead' - Mum

The mother of murder victim Phillip Strickland has told UTV she wishes his killers had shot her instead, as she remains haunted by his brutal killing in Co Down, two years ago.

The last time Elizabeth Dempster saw her son alive was just 15 minutes before his death on 11 January 2012, as he put petrol in a car she had helped him buy a day earlier."He walked out the door and I says to him: 'Now look after the wee car, son' and he turned round and his last two words to me were: 'Cheers, ma.' And that was the last time," his mum recalled.Phillip was later ambushed by four men in a yard off the Ballyglighorn Road in Comber, shot in the leg, bundled into the boot of that same car, driven to the Ballydrain Road and shot in the face.Attempts were made to burn the car and Phillip's twin brother Andrew, a fireman, arrived at the scene thinking that there had been a crash.Instead, he found his twin's badly maimed body.Speaking about the moment she called Andrew to find out what had happened, Elizabeth said: "Just something made me say to him: 'Is my Philip dead?' And he said 'Yes, and he's been shot.'"He went over to Philip and put his fingers on his neck and he was still warm, but he knew he was dead. And he put his hands down to turn his face round and he said he had no eyes."That's the way they left my son."When he needed me, I was always there for him. But when he really, really needed me - I wasn't there. There was nobody. He died among people that thought life was cheap.Elizabeth DempsterTwo years on, Elizabeth remains haunted by her son's ordeal and ultimate murder.Despite having been seriously injured by the first shot, he managed to clamber out of the boot of the car in his bid to escape - a bid that proved futile in the end.The four men responsible have been jailed for the killing.Ian Weir, 28 and from Raffery Road in Crossgar, received a four-year sentence. His brother Jason, 27 and from Comber Road in Carryduff, received a nine-and-a-half year term. Both had pleaded guilty."The four years ... I heard a noise and I didn't realise that noise was coming from me. I was crying when I heard that four years," Elizabeth said."I couldn't believe it. Four years. How do you get from life to four years?"As well as pleading guilty, Ian Weir had given evidence against one of the other men involved - his father Jimmy Seales."He was thinking of himself, he wasn't thinking of my Philip," Elizabeth said."He has two wee boys - now he can see them every weekend. I can go to my son's grave and look at a headstone."Jimmy Seales was jailed for 15 years, while the fourth man - Stephen McCaughey, from Shackleton Walk in Newtownards - received a 10-year term.Phillip's mother was in court to see them sentenced, noting: "Any other time they stared me out. That particular day, they hadn't even the guts to look anywhere near me."But for Elizabeth, the loss of her son has reduced her merely existing rather than really living her life."To the day I die, I would have rather that they came and shot me," she said.

© UTV

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