Murderer of west Belfast teenager Megan McAlorum dies in crash

The killer of west Belfast teenager Megan McAlorum has reportedly died following a traffic collision in England.

It is understood that Thomas Purcell, who was convicted in 2006 of the brutal murder of the 16-year-old two years previously, died in a crash in Oxford.

Purcell, who is aged in his 30s and claimed to be just 16 at the time of the murder, is believed to have died after being struck by a vehicle at a road interchange outside the city last weekend.

He had been released from prison in 2021 following an earlier failed parole application in 2019 upon serving his 15-year sentence.

The 2019 application had failed as Purcell was deemed unsafe to be released into the community.

Megan McAlorum was murdered by Purcell, a member of the Travelling community, on Easter Sunday 2004 after he offered her a lift while she was walking home from a takeaway.

The teenager had earlier finished a shift at a restaurant in the Glen Road area before meeting friends at a venue on the Stewartstown Road.

Megan McAlorum (16) was murdered in 2004
Megan McAlorum (16) was murdered in 2004.

Her body was later found in a wooded area close to the Glenside Road on the outskirts of west Belfast, with injuries including 54 fractures to her skull.

There was evidence Megan had been raped, but Purcell was not convicted of a sex offence as it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

Purcell had made a report to police after pretending to discover the semi-naked body when returning to the area with two young relatives believed to be aged 12 and 14 the following day.

Before that he had returned to the area on his own to move Megan’s body into a ditch.

Immediately after killing her, Purcell went to the Royal Victoria Hospital that night in an attempt to establish an alibi by claiming to have chest pains.

While there he stole a mobile phone belonging to a doctor.

Upon being charged following arrest, Purcell denied murdering Megan, but changed his plea to guilty shortly before his trial was to begin.

It is believed Purcell, who had numerous previous convictions before murdering Megan, may have been older than 16 at the time, with no official record of his birth available to authorities.

He had previously lived in England before committing the murder, and during his sentence was transferred from Hydebank Wood young offenders centre to a prison close to Oxford.

Megan’s mother Margaret received an apology from the NI Prison Service after learning of the transfer in the media, and successfully campaigned for a change in the law to prevent other families being kept in the dark in similar circumstances.

The shocking murder of Megan was the focus of a 2021 episode of TV documentary series Britain’s Deadliest Kids.

Thames Valley Police have been approached for comment.