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Tell us what you know about terror victim David's murder, Caldwell family tells Charlie One author

Family of man killed by dissident booby-trap want police to quiz author over claims about the attack in his book

By Donna Deeney

Published 12/10/2016

Murder victim David Caldwell
Murder victim David Caldwell
David Caldwell's widow Mavis McFaul and their daughter Gillian

The family of a former UDR soldier killed by dissident republicans wants police to question the author of a book that suggests Army intelligence officers had his killers under surveillance two days prior to his death.

David Caldwell left the military in 1985 and was working as a civilian, carrying out construction work at a Territorial Army base in Londonderry in 2002.

He died after he picked up a booby-trap bomb hidden in a lunch box, which exploded in his hand.

No one has been convicted of his killing, but Mr Caldwell's wife and daughter are now calling for a fresh investigation based on information contained in a book by a former soldier writing under the name of Sean Hartnett.

In his book Charlie One, Hartnett claims that the key suspects in the killing and the car they were driving had been under surveillance for days.

He also suggests that the Army knew the car, a Vauxhall Cavalier, would be used to transport a bomb, but they did not know Mr Caldwell would be the target.

The victim's widow, Mavis McFaul, aided by the leader of the Ulster Unionists, Mike Nesbitt, brought the contents of the book to the attention of First Minister Arlene Foster, who has agreed to help the family.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ms McFaul said she was angry at the pain the book has caused her daughter Gillian.

"What hurts us is why this man did not give the information in this book to the police 14 years ago when David was killed," she explained. "Why has he waited until now?

"I would like the police to bring him in for questioning to see what else he knows and allegedly isn't saying.

"I am angry that police or the Army knew the name of the man who killed David all these years, but did nothing about it.

"The investigation needs to be opened again, so that another 14 years can't pass and all the pain and loss we have felt gets opened up again.

"I feel so sorry for Gillian. She was only 14 when her father was killed and her entire life has been destroyed because of it.

"She didn't have the teenage years she should have had, because she was too afraid to go out to the places other teenagers went and leave me.

"She missed her father so much and she still misses him every day.

"These past 14 years have taken their toll on both of us, but it is Gillian my heart breaks for.

"My health has been badly affected by the strain of knowing that every time I go into the city centre I could be walking past the people who killed David.

"We have suffered long enough, we deserve answers and I was glad that we got the opportunity to raise our concerns with the First Minister.

"Arlene Foster is one of the best. She knows what we are going through as she went through something similar and has promised to do what she can."

For Gillian, the only way to get to the bottom of the claims in the book is to reopen the investigation.

She explained: "All of a sudden this man decides to write a book with information about my father.

"This man claims my father's death has haunted him for 14 years and he wanted me to have closure, but all he has done is left me hurt and angry. If he is so haunted by my father's death, let him take his information to the police so it can be investigated.

"Only a full investigation by the police will help my mother and I now, and we want it while it's still not too late.

"Fourteen years in comparison to some of the tragedies of the Troubles isn't too long.

"I am angry that the people who killed my father could have been stopped and he could still be with us.

"My father was everything to me and I was everything to him, and it angers me to think that his death could have been prevented.

"The people who killed my father could very well still be found by the police, especially if the information in this book is to be believed.

"It isn't too late for a new investigation - 14 years isn't too long ago compared to some of the things that have happened during the Troubles, but it can't be held back any longer."

Mr Nesbitt has also raised the family's concerns in a letter he sent to Chief Constable George Hamilton.

He told the PSNI chief: "Unsurprisingly, Gillian and Mavis feel re-traumatised by these allegations and now find themselves in the worst possible position, in that there is now a suggestion David's life could have been saved, but no facts to prove or disprove the notion.

"Gillian contacted Strand Road PSNI and tells me she has since spoken to detectives in the hope of securing some clarity.

"However, she reports that the officers told her they cannot help unless and until the case is reopened. On that basis, I write to request you reopen the case and otherwise do all you can to ensure the PSNI offers Gillian and Mavis the certainty and consequent comfort they seek.

"I am sure we are agreed that this is only reasonable."

Mr Hartnett declined to comment.

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