Belfast Telegraph

Ronan Kerr murder: They heard his cry for help but couldn’t save him

By Claire McNeilly

A neighbour of the murdered police officer has told of her horror at witnessing the car bomb atrocity that took his life

”I was upstairs when I heard the explosion,” the neighbour, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “I can’t describe the noise; it was like nothing I have heard before.

It was frightening. It made the the hairs on my arms stand on end.”

The noise of the blast brought people running out onto the street.

”I opened the front door and that’s when I saw the car. It was in pieces. The front end was blown off and there were bits of it lying around on fire.

“I heard the young man call out for help, but there was nothing anyone could do.

“The firemen arrived very quickly, but it was too late. They were unable to help him either.”

Another resident said his wife had been at home when the bomb went off, but he was unable to get to her afterwards.

“She was terrified,” he said.

“I was at work, but by the time I got out and tried to come home, the police weren’t letting anyone into the area.”

Most residents of the estate were yesterday still reeling from shock and anger as they were allowed back into their homes.

They couldn’t believe the dissident republicans had come back to the town for a second time – twelve and a half years after the 1998 Omagh bomb killed 29 people.

Many agreed the worst part was being unable to help the stricken officer when he became trapped in the car after the blast.

But yesterday, as police guarded the estate, the house in which Constable Kerr had lived stood isolated and empty.

It seemed somehow incongruous with the frenzied activity – and yet eerie silence – surrounding it.

But no-one could ignore the smell of petrol or the black oil stain where the car had been parked ahead of that fateful day.

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