Police in Northern Ireland have issued an appeal for information about two blue Ford Fiesta cars they believe were used during the attempted murder of senior detective John Caldwell.
Det Chief Insp Caldwell was shot several times at a sports centre in Omagh in February. He had been putting footballs into a car with his young son after coaching a youth sports team when he was targeted.
Mr Caldwell, who was critically ill for some time at Altnagelvin Hospital in Londonderry, was left with life-changing injuries.
Det Chief Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan said Mr Caldwell was “making a good recovery but it is going to be a long road”, adding: “We are lucky John didn’t die.”
He said the investigation into the “sickening” attempted murder had included 40 searches, the seizure of 400,000 hours of CCTV footage, speaking to 342 witnesses and making 15 arrests.
“Almost three months on from this horrific attack, I would take the opportunity to reiterate our appeal to the public for any information they may have which could assist us in bringing those responsible to justice.
“No piece of information is too small. We remain particularly keen to establish further details about the two blue Ford Fiesta vehicles which we believe were used in the attempted murder.”
Mr Corrigan described the known movements of the vehicles. “We previously released CCTV footage of the first vehicle as it travelled into Coalisland around 10pm on the night of the 21st. It had registration number MGZ 6242, and was fitted with false plates, FRZ 8414, prior to the attack,” he said.
“Footage shows this blue Ford Fiesta leaving the sports complex and turning left on to the Killyclogher Road immediately after the shooting. We then know it travelled past Glendale Service Station to the Racolpa Road where it was abandoned and set on fire.
“We have established that this first blue Ford Fiesta was purchased in Ballyclare on Wednesday, February 8th, and was observed travelling towards Belfast on the M2 motorway that night.
“It was next noted leaving Belfast at around 9.30pm on Tuesday, February 21st – the night before the attack on John – and travelled along the M1 motorway into Coalisland at around 10pm.
“The second vehicle, a blue Ford Fiesta of a similar model, had registration number RLZ 9805 and was bought in Glengormley towards the end of January. I believe this car travelled to Belfast around this date.
“It was then driven from Belfast at approximately 1pm on Wednesday, February 22nd – the day of the attack on John – and travelled along the M1 in the direction of Coalisland and Omagh. It was found burnt out in the Ardboe Industrial Estate the following day, Thursday, February 23rd.
“If you know where either of these cars were kept prior to the shooting or you have any knowledge of their movements on the day of the shooting, please come forward – the number to call is 101.”
Mr Corrigan urged anyone with information to search their conscience. “John was shot multiple times and, when he fell to the ground, the gunmen continued to fire at him,” he said.
“This cowardly attempt to take a life took place in the midst of terrified children and parents, and, disturbingly, in front of John’s young son. Any number of adults or children could easily have been seriously injured or killed.
“I am asking you to stop and imagine, for just one second, how you would feel if this happened to your loved one. And I’m asking you to search your conscience and come forward with any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem.”
The independent charity Crimestoppers has offered a reward of £150,000 (€173,000) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the attempted murder.
The charity is independent from the police and can be contacted anonymously on 0800 555111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
Information, including photos, CCTV and dashcam footage, can be provided to police through the Major Incident Public Portal at mipp.police.uk/operation/PSNI23S03-PO1. - PA