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John was born on the 3rd of April 1951. He was the fifth child of an eventual eleven to be born to parents Mary and Thomas Laverty. Originally from Ardoyne, the family thought it was a God send when they were allocated a house in Ballymurphy, after spending years in one room with seven of their children. Three weeks before the move to Ballymurphy twins were born – a boy and a girl sadly the baby girl died at birth. John was five years old when the family left 48 Brook Field Street and moved to Ballymurphy. Along with his brothers and sisters he continued to travel to Holy Cross Primary School. John was 9 when his little brother – Gerard aged 18 months died on the 18th of December 1960. John could not understand why his little brother was no longer there. John went on to St Gabriel’s Secondary School and on leaving at the age of 15 he got his first job.
John was six feet tall, and his height earned him the name ‘Big John’. He will always be remembered by his family as thoughtful and good natured. John had so many dreams, he wanted to save money and buy a motor bike – but his daddy talked him out of it and he decided to take driving lessons instead. The photograph for his driving license was the last ever taken of him alive. Before his death John worked for Belfast City Council and got on well with all of his workmates. He never drank alcohol but he loved a bet on the horses. John loved music and even fancied himself as a bit of a singer. John would often be heard singing ‘Needles and Pins’ in his bedroom and resulted in his sisters banging the walls as they didn’t fancy his talent as much as he did.
The last summer of John’s life was spent having water fights in the street with the friends that he grew up with. He enjoyed this as he usually got away with soaking everyone – being 6ft helped, that was until one sunny afternoon he was coming into the street after work, and they were all waiting there for him with a bath filled with water. John was lifted and placed in the bath of water. He came out drenched, water dripping everywhere with a huge smile on his face. John’s family all have different memories of him but his younger sisters remember the last time that they saw him. John left his young sisters at the local Community Centre where they had to wait on a bus to transfer them to the Kildare refugee camp in the south of Ireland. They returned home on the 13th of August and John was buried on the 16th of August. They say that time heals, John’s family don’t agree. You learn to go on with life, but scratch the surface and the pain for them is as raw as the day he was murdered.