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Nathan Gibson’s heartbroken fiancée and sister react as John Paul Whitla handed 15 years for murder

Nathan Gibson

A 44-year-old man has been sentenced at Craigavon Crown Court today, Wednesday, December 13, for the murder of Nathan Gibson in Craigavon in January 2020.

John Paul Whitla had previously pleaded guilty to murder, false imprisonment, common assault and entering as a trespasser with intent to commit a sexual offence.

In court today, he was told he will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison.

Related: Court hears details of brutal Craigavon murder which claimed life of 25-year-old

Detective Inspector Hazel Miller said: “Whitla, covered in blood, gained entry to a house in the Legahory Court area of Craigavon. This was on the night of Thursday, January 16 2020. Here, he told the woman present that he had murdered her fiancé. He then held her captive, while threatening to rape and kill her.

“The woman managed to escape by jumping from an upstairs window, whereupon she raised the alarm with a neighbour.

“A short time later police, tragically, located Nathan Gibson’s dead body on a walkway, near Lake Road. The young man, who was just 25 years old, had sustained multiple and catastrophic stab wounds to his face and neck in what was a vicious, shocking and sustained attack.

“Whitla was arrested a short time later on suspicion of murder.”

Detective Inspector Miller continued: “This was an absolutely terrifying and traumatic ordeal for Nathan’s fiancée, who was threatened, and left to feel unsafe in her own home. She, and Nathan’s family, have suffered an unimaginable and heart-breaking loss.

“Whitla murdered Nathan Gibson in the most brutal of attacks. While his motivation is unknown, there is absolutely no doubt that this was the senseless loss of a young life.

“My thoughts remain with Nathan’s loved ones, and I can only hope that today’s sentencing will bring them some comfort as they continue to try to come to terms with their grief.”

Nathan’s fiancée, speaking afterwards, said: “Whilst we have been surrounded by words such as justice and closure, the heartbreaking reality remains that Nathan’s precious little boy and I find little solace in this.

“Our little boy is left without his father while I have been left not only widowed but traumatised and lucky to have escaped alive.

“Our only form of peace and justice to Nathan comes through continuously honouring his spirit and cherishing our memories together. Ensuring that his legacy of kindness and compassion and his heart of absolute gold is kept alive through us and that our love shines brighter than the darkness that has tainted our lives.”

Shantelle Gibson – Nathan’s sister – added: “Today, after almost four long and excruciating years, John Paul Whitla has been sentenced.

“We, as a family, have also been given a sentence and, for us, it’s a lifetime of heartache and pain. No number of years will ever be enough to justify taking a life, or bring Nathan back to us.

“Nathan was a kind, caring, loveable soul who always put others before himself. He was funny, witty and an all-round great person.

“Everyone who knew him loved him; he never held any animosity or bad feelings towards anyone. By cruel contrast, his killer has brought heart-wrenching pain, not only to the family, but to Nathan’s friends and the whole community.

“Nathan’s death came as a shock to us all. Never in a million years did we expect to lose him, especially in such a brutal way.

“We will try to move forward, knowing that his murderer is behind bars. And we’ll take comfort knowing that Nathan is at rest in paradise with his beloved mother.”

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