Belfast Telegraph

Police 'baffled' over bomb put under car outside Westlake family home

By Donna Deeney

A young family was forced to climb over a wall to get past a bomb left in the driveway of their home in the Westlake area of Londonderry.

Police say they are genuinely baffled as to why the crude device was placed behind the wheel of the man's car.

He discovered the device and contacted police, who evacuated the surrounding houses shortly after 7am yesterday.

Among those forced to flee was Stephen Latimer, whose young son Alex (13) is severely autistic.

Mr Latimer said it would take a long time to help his son get back into his routine after the disruption.

He explained: "The Army bomb disposal team arrived very, very quickly and the street was full of police, so it seemed quite serious, and they were adamant we had to leave.

"It has caused us massive disruption; Alex, my son, is severely autistic so he is very routine-based.

"For him to be woken up like this will cause disruption in our house for days to come, possibly.

"Alex doesn't really understand what is going on with bomb scares or what is going on, it's just his routine has been knocked out of kilter and it will take some time to get that back to normal.

"It makes you very angry. It is difficult – this is not the kind of situation you can sit Alex down and talk about, he just doesn't understand. It is hard."

A controlled explosion was carried out on the device a short time after explosives experts arrived and the device was later taken away for further examination while police forensic officers moved in to comb the area.

Also at the cordon was councillor April Garfield Kidd, who said: "I understand police are keeping an open mind about a possible motive, but whatever it is, it is still inexcusable.

"People have been moved from their homes and while some have gone to stay with relatives for a while, others have had to stand here on the street for hours and more have not been able to get to work because their cars were behind the cordon.

"People are just baffled as to why there would be an attack like this on anyone living here.

"This is a highly residential area where people are surprised if they see a police patrol, never mind the bomb squad."

PSNI Chief Inspector Jon Burrows appealed for information.

He said: "This device posed a real risk to the community, particularly the owner of the car.

"It was viable, it could function, and even crude devices can cause death or serious injury.

"This was an entirely innocent family.

"There are times when the motivation is clear, although it is never justified.

"But in this case, it is not clear what the motive is.

"We are very open-minded, genuinely open-minded, about the motivation for this attack."

Detectives are appealing for witnesses or for anyone with information who could assist the investigation to get in touch with them.

Officers can be reached at Strand Road CID on 101.

If someone would prefer to provide information without giving their name, they can contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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