PSNI detective who survived murder bid attends garden party with King Charles

British monarch and Queen Camilla arrive in Northern Ireland for two-day visit

A senior detective who survived a murder bid by dissident republicans earlier this year has attended a garden party in Co Down with Britain’s King Charles and Queen Camilla.

The event was the first time Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell has appeared in public since the attack.

It is understood he had a private audience with the king ahead of the event.

Mr Caldwell was seriously injured after he was shot several times at a sports centre in Omagh, Co Tyrone in February after coaching a youth sports team.


DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson was also among the guests at the garden party at Hillsborough Castle in Co Down, the royal residence in Northern Ireland.

It came on the first day of a visit by the king and queen to Northern Ireland. It is their first visit outside England since the coronation earlier this month.

The couple met with pupils from a local primary school who have taken part in a competition to design coronation benches.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris hosted a brief private audience with the king and queen before they attended a garden party and planted a tree within the grounds of the castle to mark the coronation.

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill did not attend the event.

However she said representatives from the party will be present at events during the two-day visit.

“Yes, I think there’s a whole raft of engagements and some of our MPs will be at local events in their constituencies,” she told reporters after a meeting with the secretary of state at Hillsborough castle on Wednesday.

Earlier the king and queen officially opened a coronation garden at Hazelbank Park in Newtownabbey,

They were welcomed by the Lord-Lieutenant of Co Antrim David McCorkell, mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Stephen Ross and North Belfast Sinn Féin MP John Finucane.

They were serenaded by school children and took some time to chat with the youngsters before officially opening the gates to the coronation garden.

Garden designer Diarmuid Gavin accompanied Charles and Camilla, introducing them to those who have spent recent months working to realise his “whimsical” design, which includes music, moving plants and bubbles.

He said his team had been working around the clock in recent months to prepare the garden, and described his inspiration as “whimsy” to mark the coronation as well as engaging with people of all ages.

“They were wonderful – I got to spend a little bit of time with them, we went into the quiet garden with the water dancing and they were asking me where the plants came from, the idea behind the design, and they couldn’t have been nicer,” he said. – PA