Belfast Telegraph

Campaign of terror leaves pensioner fearing for his life

By Staff Reporter

A pensioner has spoken of his fear that he will be "murdered in his bed" after arsonists set fire to a car outside his home – the latest in a string of threats, intimidation and abuse against him.

Derek Chambers, from Florencecourt in Co Fermanagh, said he and his wife Betty "will end up dead" if the PSNI don't catch the people he believes are responsible for three years of attacks.

"These people want us gone, they want us dead. It makes me feel sick, I am out of my mind," Mr Chambers (68) said. "We are two pensioners, we have worked hard all our lives and we just want peace. But these people – they are out to get us and we don't know why."

The attacks have stepped up in recent weeks, with one man apparently telling the couple he would "blow their brains out" and a car fire-bombed outside the home they have lived in for more than 30 years. They previously had their windows smashed. Mr Chambers was so distraught by the escalation in threats, he walked into a Sunday church service and pleaded with the congregation from the pulpit to help find those responsible.

"They wanted to murder us in our bed," said Mr Chambers. It is understood criminal elements in the county are suspected of being involved in the campaign.

The couple were woken at 5am on August 24 when a car was abandoned on their drive and set on fire as a second car drove off. Part of the roof of their home and window frames were damaged, outside lights were burned out and their concrete drive was scorch-damaged.

Before the attack, Mr Chambers said a lorry driver dumped soil on his lane.

"I sat in front of him, I told him he could drive over the top of me if he wanted to and he said he would blow our brains out," explained Mr Chambers. "I have been receiving these threats for three years. They even smashed every window in the house in 2011. We are three years living here in fear. I don't sleep."

During an emotionally-charged interview, Mr Chambers said: "I can't take this any more. It's a sin that people are trying to drive us out of here."

A desperate Mr Chambers walked into St John's parish church in Florencecourt during a Sunday service last month, went to the front and told the startled congregation about his plight.

"The minister was in the middle of the sermon. I told everyone what had been going on and I didn't name first names. I told them what was happening and I asked everyone that if they knew anything to come forward and tell the police.

"But I am telling you now, people are afraid of their lives to say anything," he said, adding that he and his wife were "thankful" for the help and support of many neighbours and friends. Mr Chambers has worked for the National Trust for over 30 years and is highly regarded among his community. He said he has provided the police with the names of the people he believes are responsible.

He said: "The police have done absolutely nothing. I gave them the names and they come here and take the odd statement. If a man threatens to blow our brains out, he should be taken to court.

"It is an outrage. Why are they targeting us? You can talk to the whole country around here and they will tell you that we are good people."

Ulster Unionist MLA Tom Elliott has been assisting the couple.

"I condemn all intimidation or any acts of violence. The public have a difficult enough time without having to cope with waves of anti-social behaviour," he said.

In response to Mr Chambers' criticism, the PSNI said: "We do not comment on named individuals.

"However, we never ignore anything that would put anyone at risk. Police are investigating a number of incidents in the Florencecourt area. Inquiries are continuing and we would appeal for anyone who can help with police inquiries to come forward."

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