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Children of two police men murdered in Lurgan, Co Armagh speak of their devastation 25 years on

The children of two police officers, murdered in Lurgan, Co Armagh in 1997, have spoken of their heart break and need for justice .

Constable John Graham and Reserve Constable David Johnston were shot dead at Church Walk in Lurgan on 16 June 1997.

Two family men on duty, they were walking ‘on a beat patrol’ in Church Walk when two gunmen ran up behind them and shot them at close range.

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Despite the efforts of doctors from a nearby surgery, who rushed to their aid, both officers died at the scene.

John Graham with Rebecca Graham and her younger sister Abigail. Constable Graham was murdered in Lurgan, Co Armagh 25 years ago.

Both men were in their thirties and were married with young families.

John, 34 years old, was from Richhill and had three daughters aged 10, 7 and 2 and David, 30 years old, was from Lisburn and had two sons aged 7 and 3.

The murders left five young children without their fathers. John and David never had the opportunity to see their children grow up.

Constable John Graham’s daughter on his murder and life without her daddy

John Graham with his daughter Rebecca and his wife Rosemary. Constable Graham was murdered in Church Walk Lurgan 25 tears ago.

Speaking about her father’s murder, John’s daughter Abbie said: “On Monday 16th June, we said goodbye to daddy and went to school. When we left him, he was sitting in the kitchen, with my younger sister on his knee, feeding her peanut butter toast.

“After we left him, daddy went into work that morning, and never came home.

“I can’t begin to describe the devastation of losing a parent at such a young age, I can’t tell you how hard it is to watch your own mothers’ heart break before you. What I can tell you, is that one of the only hopes we have to this day is that whoever committed this crime could be brought to justice.

“All I can do, is ask, or even beg, that anyone with any information, no matter how small, or seemingly insignificant to please come forward and help us. We needed our daddy then and we still need him today, but right now we also need you, so please, please help us to get justice for our dads.”

David Johnston with his two boys, Louie and Joshua. Constable Johnston was murdered in Church Walk, Lurgan 25 years ago.

Reserve Constable David Johnston’s son on what his daddy was like and his plea for justice

Speaking about his father’s murder, David’s son Louie said: “Five seconds was all it took to change the course of our family’s history and take our dad away, leaving 25 years of unimaginable pain, loss and longing for our wonderful daddy.

“Not defined by the uniform he wore; Daddy met all based on the content of their character. Dad was moved with compassion to serve the local community, was full of love, and was loved by his family deeply.

“His heart was so big there was room for everyone inside of it, his laughter infectious, his smile warm.

David with Louie and Joshua as they celebrate Christmas Constable Johnston was murdered in Church Walk, Lurgan 25 years ago.

“Sadly, this was left vacant from his children growing up, and now the same heartache repeats for his grandchildren as well.

“We ask anyone with information to please come forward and help us once again change the course of our family’s history as we seek justice.”

Statement from the PSNI

Detective Superintendent Stephen Wright from Legacy Investigation Branch said: “Shortly before 11.55am on Monday 16 June 1997 John and David were on foot patrol in Church Walk when they were shot at close range by two gunmen who ran up behind them.

“The gunmen, who may have been disguised by wearing wigs, are believed to have made their escape in a green coloured Rover 216 car, VRM YIJ 2371 that was later found burnt out in the Kilwilke Estate in the town.

“John and David were young men murdered while serving the local community of Lurgan. I would ask everyone to take a moment to stop and think about that. Murdered for no other reason than that they were police officers providing a service to the local community and local people of Lurgan. This is in stark contrast to the terrorists responsible for their brutal murders.

“My appeal today is aimed at the local people of Lurgan who were in the area of Church Walk on the day of the murders. I believe that someone must have seen the gunmen before or after the attack or will know who these individuals were. Did you see them make their escape after the attack? Did you see the green coloured Rover car in the vicinity of Church Walk or being abandoned and set on fire in the Kilwilke Estate?”

Detective Superintendent Wright continued: “In the years since these brutal murders circumstances and allegiances may have changed, people’s lifestyles change and I want those who know who was involved that day to search their consciences and come forward to the police. I am appealing to anyone with any knowledge of what happened that day, whether as a witness or from personal involvement, who have not spoken to police previously to do so now. It is not too late, if anyone now feels they are able to talk to us, we are ready to listen.

“We are appealing for assistance from the local community who we still believe can help us, despite the amount of time which has elapsed. Anyone with information can contact detectives in Legacy Investigation Branch on 101 or [email protected] You can also submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/ or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org/.”

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