Although always interested in true crime, my interest really grew at University when a terrible thing happened to a good friend of mine.
I met my friend Nik Lynch at University in Wales and he was great, you would have liked him. He was from Didsbury, Manchester and a year older than me. We travelled all over the UK with the sailing team, spent many long days in a variety of pubs, bars and clubs and watched lots of live football, rugby and cricket together. As we weren’t blessed with lots of hair, we jointly formed the ‘Bald Coot’ society, with quarterly dinners in a nearby curry house. Nik was bright, full of fun and had a huge number of friends which wasn’t surprising as he was always great company.
Nik’s Dad was a trade union man and his mum was kind and deeply religious. A few of us spent weekends with his family in Manchester, and they were lovely people, although we all used to mock his mum who was very protective over her children and would still tell Nick to put on a coat when he was 22. When Nik graduated with his master’s in engineering he took a few months to travel in South America before starting work. He planned to come back in August, and we agreed to sail together and share a tent at the Burnham Week Regatta in Essex a week or so after his return.
As expected, Nik had a blast in South America and particularly loved Brazil and the people of that great country. By April he was in the north-east, in the City of Manaus, with a couple of friends. On 2 April 1993 Nik and a group of people were swimming in the Amazon during the day, at a spot he described as being just like paradise. In the evening, they went out for some drinks and dinner in a local restaurant before heading back through the docks area where they were staying. It was here, as they strolled along the road in high spirits without a care in the world, that they were caught in crossfire between an armed robber and security guard. Nik was in the middle of his two friends and one bullet ricochet off a tree and hit Nick – who was over 6 foot – in the back of the head, behind his ear. Nik slumped to the floor, immediately unconscious. His two terrified friends stopped a car and Nik was rushed to hospital, but he didn’t regain consciousness and died shortly afterwards. Nik Lynch was aged just 23.The Armed robber was later sent to prison for the killing.
Back at University
Back at University, in those pre-mobile/internet days, I was blissfully unaware of what had happened to Nik and looking forward to the National University Sailing Championships, an event we had been working towards all year. It was a Sunday night and we were having a last briefing meeting – in a pub, of course – before heading off to the event in the minibus the next morning. It was Brigit who told us all the terrible news, after being phoned by Nik’s parents. I can picture the scene very clearly now as Brigit said, “I’ve got some terrible news, Nik Lynch is dead”. The world stopped. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing, surely there had to be some sort of mistake? Nik had been in so many scrapes already in his young life but he was one of those people who always came out unscathed due to his charisma and easy-going nature. He was just 23 with everything to live for, it just seemed – and still seems – so unfair.
The Terrible Aftermath
It was my first experience of real grief and I couldn’t make sense of the randomness of what had happened. On the very morning of his murder Nik had said he was in paradise and yet hours later he was dead. Why had Nik been hit by the bullet and not either of his two companions? I couldn’t make sense of the unfairness of it all and in reality, although as an adult I am supposed to be able to explain these things to my children, I still can’t. When in Manchester, I usually stop at Southern Cemetery and make my way to the graveside to talk with Nik. It takes me back to that terrible day when he was buried and the awful pain felt by us all, but especially his distraught family as his Uncle, who was a Priest, spoke through tears as Nik’s coffin was lowered into his grave. And then as we drove to the pub afterwards, I couldn’t understand how all around me were people living their normal lives, as if nothing had happened. Much of the day is a blur, but I recall Nik’s Dad saying to me that I shouldn’t remember Nik like this, with upset and grief. But instead to think of him as the vibrant man he was and relish the time we had spent together. And finally with the passage of 25 years, I can do this.
If you listen to my podcast you will see that although I am still interested in serial killers and other well-known crimes, most of the stories I cover are about normal people going about their everyday lives. When doing so, they are involved in a random act they could never have predicted with, of course, devastating consequences. People like Nik. These are the sort of people who, like you and me, say that this sort of thing never happens around here and it certainly never happens to us. But of course, it does…