Northern Ireland

'We are lucky John Caldwell didn’t die' - Investigation into attempted murder of detective making ‘significant progress’

(David Young/PA)
(David Young/PA)

Police investigating the attempted murder of a senior detective in Northern Ireland said the inquiry has made “significant progress”.

Detective Chief Inspector John 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 Derry, was left with life-changing injuries.

He was discharged from hospital last month to continue his recovery at home.

Detective Superintendent Eamonn Corrigan, who is leading the attempted murder inquiry, told the BBC “significant progress” has been made in the investigation, but did not give any further details.

The BBC reports police have seized an estimated 400,000 hours of CCTV footage as they attempt to trace the movements of two Ford Fiesta cars used in the attack, which were later found burned out.

Mr Corrigan told the broadcaster: “All the detectives working on the case know the importance of CCTV and the fact that a 15 or 20-second piece of footage could be crucial in building a case.

“An attack of this nature is carried out by multiple people who are organised.

Police officer shot in Omagh
People taking part in a rally outside Omagh Courthouse to unite against paramilitary violence following the shooting of Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell (Brian Lawless/PA)

“We are looking for movements of people and vehicles over time. It is time consuming and a lot of patience is required.”

While the New IRA has admitted responsibility for the attack, Mr Corrigan said police believe the group may have been aided by a criminal gang.

“Whether these people are members of a terrorist organisation or an organised crime organisation, this has been an attack on a serving police officer at the behest of the New IRA,” he said.

“How they carry out their operations and support them logistically is not for me to decide.

“I will follow the evidence and bring people who are responsible before the courts.”

Mr Corrigan said Mr Caldwell is “making a good recovery but it is going to be a long road”, telling the BBC: “We are lucky John didn’t die.”