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Woman in lucky escape after bomb is left at door

By Donna Deeney

Published 02/12/2015

The scene in Ard Na Smoll, Dungiven, where a pipe bomb was left at the front of a house
The scene in Ard Na Smoll, Dungiven, where a pipe bomb was left at the front of a house
Scorch damage caused to a bin outside the house
Anger: Gavin Watson

The partner of a woman who almost stepped on top of a bomb left on the doorstep of her Dungiven home has said he is haunted by what could have happened.

Gavin Watson, who lives with his partner and their two-year-old daughter at Ard Na Smoll in the Co Derry town, said he had no idea why they were targeted.

A large pipe bomb was discovered by Mr Watson's neighbour, who came to his partner's assistance after two wheelie bins were set alight and left at their home.

Mr Watson has lived at the property with his partner for the past 11 years and has been left bewildered as to why his house was singled out by those responsible for placing the device at his doorstep. Police have said that it was capable of causing death or serious injury.

"I wasn't at home at the time the wheelie bins were set on fire, but my partner and daughter were," Mr Watson explained.

"She noticed the flames through the living room window and went out to see what it was. She didn't even see the bomb, and the only reason she didn't step outside was because she had no shoes on.

"She could easily have stepped on top of that bomb. Only my neighbour saw it and told her to get back in the house, it could have ended in a bigger nightmare.

"I have no clue why these boys did this to me. I can only guess they picked a house at random because I am an ordinary working man who holds no strong political opinions.

"I am a bricklayer and I work hard to provide for my family. I am born and bred in Dungiven and get on with all my neighbours.

"I did think about leaving my home, but then I thought: 'Why should I?' I've done nothing and leaving would only be giving in to fear and I won't do that. I was scared, though, and it will haunt me - there's no doubt about that."

A number of Mr Watson's neighbours were also evacuated overnight while Army bomb disposal officers made the device safe, but while Mr Watson remains away from his home, his neighbours were allowed back yesterday afternoon.

Superintendent John Magill, the Causeway Coast and Glens district commander, confirmed the device left at Mr Watson's home was deadly.

He added: "The device, which could have injured or killed individuals, was discovered by firefighters when they turned out to deal with two wheelie bins on fire at a house at Ard Na Smoll.

"Those firefighters are local people giving up their time to help local communities in emergencies, and were put at risk by this device.

"This is the third viable device uncovered in the Dungiven area in four weeks. These incidents are not wanted in the area. The condemnation of local political leaders and members of the community demonstrates that.

"The particular appeal from detectives is for information about any unusual activity in the area. In particular, we want to hear more about two men seen running away at about 9pm."

This is the third time in four weeks Army bomb experts have made safe a device in the wider Dungiven area, and at this stage a link between all three attacks has not been ruled out."

Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey spent much of yesterday at the scene.

He said: "The people behind this recent spate of devices have only achieved disruption of the local community.

"These actions are achieving nothing. These actions have been rejected by the local community and they must stop."

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