Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Pipe-bomb blast at home of former unionist MLA is probed by police

Roger Hutchinson
Roger Hutchinson

Police are investigating whether a former unionist MLA and ex-pastor was the target of a pipe-bomb attack.

The device exploded in Dundonald on the outskirts of east Belfast.

Army bomb disposal experts were called to Millars Forge in the early hours of yesterday following reports of an explosion.

Residents said the property belongs to former DUP Assembly Member Roger Hutchinson who is believed to have been at home at the time.

Neighbours said he was seen leaving the property with his belongings yesterday morning.

Mr Hutchinson (61) previously sat on Newtownabbey council and was an MLA for East Antrim.

He was also a pastor in Larne until 1993.

Mr Hutchinson was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998 for the UK Unionist Party (UKUP) in East Antrim.

Following a disagreement with UKUP leader Robert McCartney the following year, Mr Hutchinson joined the Northern Ireland Unionist Party (NIUP).

But late in 1999, he left that party and sat as an independent unionist.

The party later folded and Mr McCartney left politics.

In November 2000, Mr Hutchinson joined the DUP and was elected to represent the party on Newtownabbey Borough Council in 2001.

He resigned from the party in 2003 and stood as an independent in the 2003 East Antrim Assembly elections. He failed to secure enough votes for success and has since stepped away from frontline politics.

Hutchinson did not restand for his council seat in 2005.

A number of homes were evacuated yesterday while Army bomb experts examined a suspicious object in the garden of a property in the estate.

It was found to be the remains of a pipe-bomb which had detonated.

Slight damage was caused to a car. Nobody was injured in the explosion.

Residents were allowed to return to their homes around 6am yesterday, five hours after the alert began.

Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact them.

A spokesman said no motive for the attack had yet been established. Mr Hutchinson was unable to be contacted yesterday.

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