By Elizabeth Doherty
TO those who have never spent time with her – Christine Campbell may just be another statistic – a mother who yearns for justice.
But for those who know Christine, they see and hear a brave, strong, towering woman, who will never give up a relentless and tiring fight for justice for her child – the one she can and will never forget.
Christine, from Dublin, looks at the clock every day at 9.10am because this was the moment her son was murdered almost nine long years ago on December 12, 2006.
She touches and says “Good morning,” to a pair of rosary beads that hang from her car’s rear view mirror, every morning, before she drives to work.
On Tuesdays, this moment is more “significant” because this was the day Anthony left her world forever.
Every Tuesday is a reminder of that fact almost a decade on, she still has not got what she craves the most, “justice for my child.”
No one has ever been held to account for the young man’s murder and today, Christine says she dreads becoming like Stephen Lawrence’s family, who waited almost 20 years for justice.
Anthony Campbell, was a 20-year-old apprentice plumber, who had been earning money for Christmas, fixing a radiator at a stranger’s house, when he was shot dead at close range.
The stranger was crime boss Martin Hyland, who lived in Finglas, Dublin, and as a gunman targeted Hyland, Anthony, was shot dead as a witness to the execution.
He raised his hand up in defence but nothing could stop the gunman intent on murder, despite Anthony being an innocent bystander.
All these years later, though an incredibly strong woman, Christine admits she is “devastated,” because she feels she has let her son down.
“As a mum I am devastated that I couldn’t push the case forward more for Anthony. I feel that as a mum, you will do anything for your child.
“But it is like I am up against a brick wall.”
Christine, like the Lawrence family, whose son Stephen Lawrence was also an innocent murder victim, has campaigned long and hard for justice.
She has appealed repeatedly in the press for those who know who her son’s killers are, to come forward, but the investigation, now a cold case, has never developed.
She gave an interview to RTE Radio early this year and said for the first time in two-and-a-half years, the Gardai got in touch, because she had slated them on air for falling short.
“This year the gardai got in touch twice. It was an officer I didn’t know. I had to say to her, ‘Do you think by calling me, you’ll make me feel better?’
“They didn’t have any new developments. They never do.”
Christine had known all the police on her son’s case over the years, but slowly they have retired and it seems to her that Anthony’s murder has been “forgotten.”
“If there had been charges after Anthony was murdered, I would feel something was being done.
“But there was nothing. I feel he’s been forgotten. If you look at Veronica Guerin, the gardai were very quick to race to find those responsible on that case.
“I am not the only one who feels this way. There are a lot of people out there like me.
I am a mother. I always will be. I will never forget Anthony and I don’t want to feel his life was taken in vain.
“I don’t spend my time talking about those who killed my son – I won’t fill myself with hate.
I talk about my son – and as those men came knocking on a door to take my son that day – I am waiting to knock on their door – to bring them to justice.
Hyland was staying with his niece and her partner for three months, on the day he was executed by his rivals at the Scribblestown Park house.
The killers shot Anthony first and then went upstairs to kill Hyland, who was in bed.
Detective Inspector Kieran McEneaney said Anthony was shot dead to eliminate any risk of the murderers being identified.
A Garda investigation was launched and 14 people were arrested in the aftermath of the killings but no one was ever imprisoned.
Det McEneaney said in 2011 that “Sinister criminal elements of a serious criminal persuasion were involved in the deliberate and violent murder of Martin Hyland and in the ruthless taking of Anthony Campbell.”
The officer admitted at that time that the case had not developed any further because no new information had been volunteered by the public.
It seems though she hates the thought of it, Christine is facing the same wall of silence that the Lawrence family faced after their 18-year-old son, Stephen, was stabbed in an Eltham, South London street in 1993.
This racially-motivated crime became one of the most embarrassing cases in British history – sparking an inquiry in to the Metropolitan Police, found to be “institutionally racist.”
In some respects, the strength and conviction the Lawrence’s showed through those two decades, spurs Christine on, but she does not want to wait another decade for justice.
“It’s coming up to nine years and nothing has changed. I am still grieving the loss of my son.
Half the time I am here, for my husband, for the life I have now, but half the time I am not and I am still in the past.
“I have always spoke from the heart – I am only here for one cause, to bring to justice those who took my child.
“But where is justice for my boy? Nowhere.”
Christine remembers her son every day without faltering. She remembers his laughter, how he never took life too seriously – how he wouldn’t take too much notice of her telling him off.
Life seemed a breeze for this young man, with life at his feet. The mother and son were more like “pals,” and for the joy she had, for those 20 years, Christine at least knows, the killers could not take that away.
“Life has been very hard since losing Anthony,” she said.
But on the other hand, I know I am also one of the luckiest women in the world because I enjoyed the best years of my life with my beautiful son.
“No one can take that away from me. I was blessed.
“Sometimes I want to shake mums I see, who don’t appreciate what they have.
“I want to say that these are the precious times. To make the most of them.”
Looking at photos of Christine with her baby-faced, handsome boy, it does seem that somehow she had secret knowledge that time passes quickly, when she was just a young mother.
She is photographed laughing, smiling, hugging her son. The bond between the pair is so visible.
It seems that not even death can sever this relationship.
The memory never fades, she said. I feel like Anthony has left me for a while, but he hasn’t turned his back on me, and I know one day, we will be together again.
She does regret that she didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy her son’s children as a grandmother.
But Christine is showered with affection by her husband and his family.
They are planning a trip away with her nephews and nieces within weeks.
Some, who do not know Christine’s past, in her home in England, do not understand why she is so excited about being ferried off on holiday with a group of young children.
But for Christine, the eternal mother, this is a pleasure that comes above anything else in life.
“I love children. I would have loved a grandchild and I adore family.
“Family is the most important thing. So I am very excited about taking my nephews and nieces away on holiday.”
Sadly though, Christmas is always a hard time for Christine.
The season is merely an annual reminder that Anthony, who was working so hard to save money to buy presents, is no longer here.
My husband wanted to buy me a ball to put on the Christmas tree bearing Anthony’s name to remember him, but I told him no. I couldn’t do it.
“You see, if your child has cancer and dies like that – it is bad enough – but if your child is taken from you without warning, murdered – the pain is just unbelievable.
“I never had the chance to say goodbye. And someone took him from me.
The day I get justice for Anthony is the day I can place a decoration on the tree bearing his name.
“That is the day he will be finally be laid to rest.
“But until then, I know Anthony is looking down on me. He didn’t leave me and I’ll see him again.
“I could be bitter and twisted, full of hate for those who took my son – but I’m not.
“I don’t think about them. I think about Anthony and though this time of year is very hard – I have a great family, who are there every step of the way for me.
“And Ireland hasn’t forgotten Anthony – or what happened to him.
Ireland held him in its heart – and I want to see the day Ireland holds those responsible for my son’s murder.