Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Murder gang linked to other crimes

Constable Ronan Kerr died when a booby trap bomb detonated under his car in Omagh, Co Tyrone, last year

A terrorist gang that murdered a policeman in Northern Ireland has been linked to nine other dissident republican crimes, a senior detective has revealed.

Making a fresh bid for public help to catch the killers of Constable Ronan Kerr, the officer leading the investigation said he believes members of the group are also responsible for another murder bid on police, other dissident attacks, armed robberies and a major arms find.

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective superintendent Raymond Murray also said some of the gang had previously been affiliated with other dissident factions.

Con Kerr, 25, died when a booby trap bomb detonated under his car in Omagh, Co Tyrone as he was leaving for work last April. No-one has yet been charged with the murder.

A group claiming it was made up of former members of the Provisional IRA said it was responsible for murdering the newly qualified Catholic officer.

Targeted in a bid to scare other nationalists from joining the PSNI, the officer's mother Nuala urged would-be Catholic recruits to stand up against the dissidents in the days after her son's death.

Mr Murray said he needs help to identify 11 cars and an unknown man spotted close to Mr Kerr's home in Highfield Close in Omagh in the days before the attack.

"We know that the bombers had to come into that development to carry out that attack. I would ask the public to help us to catch those brutal killers and put them away," he said.

He added: "These vehicles and the man are significant for one of two reasons. They are either valuable witnesses or potential suspects. That is why we need anyone who knows anything about these appeals to come forward so that we can progress the investigation."

A £50,000 reward is still on offer from independent charity Crimestoppers for information that leads to the conviction of Mr Kerr's killers. Mr Murray said the investigation is the largest undertaken by the police in Northern Ireland since the 1998 Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people.

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