Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Elderly and sick forced out of homes for hours by bombers

Moira John (right) wraps up with a blanket with David Coulter
Moira John (right) wraps up with a blanket with David Coulter
Army experts at the scene on the Garryduff Road
Army experts at the scene on the Garryduff Road

A wheelchair user was forced to leave his home in the early hours after pipe-bombs were left on the window sill of his next door neighbour’s house.

David Coulter (50) — who has progressive multiple sclerosis — sat outside his home for over seven hours as Army bomb experts examined the potentially deadly devices.

Around 30 houses were evacuated after the bombs were found in Dehra Gardens, on the Garryduff Road, Ballymoney, yesterday morning.

The quiet housing estate is popular with elderly people and is close to a school, church and the town’s leisure centre.

Two controlled explosions were carried out on the pipe-bombs, which were viable, according to the Army.

Mr Coulter was asleep in his home when his next door neighbour alerted him to the devices.

“It was an upheaval and quite stressful,” Mr Coulter’s cousin and carer Moira John told the Belfast Telegraph.

“Him and me were out on the street from about 5am this morning and didn’t get back in until after noon.

“David is very vulnerable, being in the wheelchair, so we are worried thinking what next?

“It’s quite frightening. If I hadn’t have been here how would David have got out or how would anyone have got in?”

Garryduff Presbyterian Church Hall was opened up and provided refreshments to some of those forced from their homes.

North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey, who lives in Ballymoney, spent yesterday morning at the scene.

He hit out at the recklessness of the attack.

“It has brought undue attention for all the wrong reasons to an area of Ballymoney which has been peaceful and quiet for many, many years,” he said.

“The people of the area do not need this type of disruption, they want to continue to live in peace and quiet.

“This has been a real shock to them and it has caused a lot of disruption, given the fact you’re talking about a fair number of senior citizens.”

Residents were allowed to return to their homes after midday and a number of items were taken away for forensic examination. The Garryduff Road was closed from Chestnut Grove and at the roundabout on the Ballymena Road during the alert.

Detectives in Coleraine would like to speak to anyone who has information on the incident.

They can be contacted on 0845 600 8000.

Alternatively, you can anonymously contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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