IT has been described as Glasgow’s forgotten murder.

Darren Birt, who had been at a party with friends, was brutally slain with a hammer and knives by three mystery men.

The 22-year-old had become innocently involved in an altercation at the gathering in Burnmouth Road in Barlanark which spilled out onto the street.

Glasgow Times:

He was then chased from Edinburgh Road towards nearby Burnett Road – in the East End of the city – and then attacked with hammers and knives.

Found lying in a pool of blood at 1.30am on August 28, 2002, in residential Calvay Place, he was rushed to the city’s Royal Infirmary but died a short time later.

More than 20 years later, no-one has stood trial or been convicted of his murder.

The police believe they know who is responsible but have struggled to get the necessary evidence to bring it to court.

At the time of the original investigation, three men were questioned and charged but it did not lead to a prosecution.

The inquiry ground to a halt as police struggled to break down the wall of silence that often envelopes such crimes.

People who were at the party and in the area at the time were traced. However, others did not come forward, perhaps because they were fearful of reprisals.

One local told the Glasgow Times: “Even though it was a brutal murder of an innocent young man people would be worried that the same thing might happen to them.

“There is also a culture among some people of not wanting to help the police – even in a murder inquiry.”

In the following years, Darren’s family never gave up hope that his killers would be brought to justice.

However, Darren’s father Brian became frustrated at what he saw as a lack of interest in solving the case and felt more police resources should have been deployed at the time.

He published a book in 2018 titled Scotland’s Forgotten Murder, which was critical of both Police Scotland and the Crown Office.

Glasgow Times:

In an interview the following year, Brian revealed the monthly pilgrimages he makes to Calvay Place where his son was murdered.

He said: “They smashed his head in with a hammer and stabbed him in the back multiple times.

“They left him lying in his own blood.

“He had everything to live for. What really upsets me, coming here, is I know in my mind’s eye that this is where my son took his last breath.

“I was five minutes away in the house watching TV while my son was lying dead in the street.”

The grieving dad then added: “It makes me feel very sad and very angry because nothing has been done for my son and the murderers are still out there.

“It’s a horrendous feeling. It’s one that will never go away for me, my son Kevin or my former wife.

“The pain in all our hearts is unbelievable. It’s indescribable pain and it’s just not right that this can be a forgotten murder.”

In 2020 it was revealed that Police Scotland had been carrying out a cold case review of Darren’s murder and was reinterviewing key witnesses.

At the time Brian said: “Our family are delighted that Darren’s murder is finally receiving proper attention.

“The officers have been empathetic, professional and sincere and reassured us they’re conducting a full and comprehensive re-investigation.

“I vowed to get justice for Darren and this is the closest we’ve got.”

Brian then added: “We are confident but not getting carried away.

“It’s also important to say to anyone who knows anything about Darren’s murder that it’s not too late to do the right thing and come forward.”

Darren’s death attracted little media coverage at the time despite its violent nature.

Murders involving young men in a housing scheme – possibly because of their frequency – often don’t get the same attention as other types of homicide.

Despite the fresh investigation no-one was charged or put on trial.

However, last year the Birt family, including mum Anne and brother Kevin, were given fresh hope when Police Scotland did a renewed appeal for witnesses.

In March, detective inspector Lynsey Watters of Police Scotland said: “Despite the passage of time, I am determined to find whoever is responsible for Darren’s murder and bring them to justice.

“It’s clear he was a much-loved son and brother and is deeply missed by his family.

“We know that Darren was chased from Edinburgh Road down towards Burnett Road shortly before he was attacked. Someone must have heard something.

“No case is ever closed in Scotland and I am convinced there are people out there who have information vital to this investigation who have failed to come forward.

“This may be down to fear or some misplaced loyalty to those responsible for this horrific crime. But please do the right thing and contact us.

“You can be assured your information will be treated in the utmost confidence.”

Police also set up a website allowing the public to send information directly to detectives.

Last October, a £20,000 reward was offered by Crimestoppers to anyone who can provide information leading to the arrest and conviction of Darren’s killers.

BBC’s Crimewatch programme also broadcast chilling CCTV footage showing three suspects chasing Darren moments before he was fatally wounded.

A reconstruction of the events leading up to his death was also televised.

The aim of the national televised appeal was to break down the wall of silence surrounding Darren’s murder.

It was hoped that the reconstruction might jog a memory, particularly of people who did not think to come forward at the time.

READ MORE: The Glasgow crime story of the murder bid on Steven Bonzo Daniel

Dad Brian issued a moving appeal on the same programme saying: “I’ll do everything in my power to get justice.”

The programme also revealed more details of the events that had led up to Darren’s murder.

He had met friends to watch football and have a few drinks at the house in Burnmouth Road.

At one point there was a dispute between Darren and another man.

Darren left the house and CCTV footage later shows him buying food and drinks at a nearby petrol station.

At this point, he is approached by a second man and a fight breaks out.

Darren then pushes the man to the ground before joining his friends at a bus stop.

It is then that he is confronted by a group of three men. The first pulls out what is believed to be a knife before a second smashes a bottle over Darren’s head.

Darren runs for his life but is then pursued on to Burnett Road then Calvay Place.

Witnesses say Darren banged on the door of a house for help before the attackers then fatally wounded him.

At the time of the Crimewatch appeal, people living close to the crime scene in Calvay Place and Burnett Road received letters from police appealing for information and were urged to watch the BBC reconstruction.

They were told that if they didn’t want to speak with the murder investigation team, they could contact Crimestoppers anonymously.

Calvay Housing Association, which has residents living in the area, also shared the letter on social media.

A spokesperson said at the time: “We would encourage people to come forward if they have any information and support the police with their inquiry.”

Despite the wall of silence, there was a lot of support last year for the new police investigation.

One local posting on social media said: “If anyone out there knows anything, do the right thing.

“It’s not going to bring Darren back but it just might bring his killer (or killers) to justice.”

The Birt family still haven’t given up hope that someone will be brought to justice for their son’s murder.

They also have the support of West Scotland MSP and shadow communities spokesperson Russell Findlay in their campaign for justice.

In a recent social media post Brian, now 67, said: “I’m asking the community if you have anything to say now is the time.

“End my family’s heartache.”

Police Scotland says it is still committed to getting justice for Darren.

A spokesperson added: “If anyone out there has information that could assist us, I would urge them to pick up the phone.”