Belfast Telegraph

Golf club bomb probe officer issues appeal over cars used in murder bid

CCTV footage shown by Detective Superintendent Sean Wright in relation to the attempted bomb attack at Shandon Golf Club
CCTV footage shown by Detective Superintendent Sean Wright in relation to the attempted bomb attack at Shandon Golf Club
The attempted bomb attack at Shandon Golf Club
Detective Superintendent Sean Wright
Brett Campbell

By Brett Campbell

Police investigating the failed New IRA attempt to murder a police officer say the terrorists responsible may have had support in east Belfast.

Detectives yesterday released CCTV footage of the two vehicles they believe were used to plant the booby-trap bomb.

The device was spotted under the off-duty policeman's car at Shandon Park Golf Club at around 1pm on June 1.

The new CCTV images show a green Skoda Octavia with a Dublin registration 01 D 78089 and a silver Saab 95 with the registration NFZ 3216 travelling along the M1 from Lurgan towards Belfast at around 10pm the previous evening.

The two cars are later seen approaching east Belfast at 12.08am on the Saturday morning before they split up for a short time.

The Saab vehicle disappears for just over one hour while the Skoda continues to travel in the direction of the Newtownards Road.

But this vehicle eventually turns back before it, too, vanishes and remains unaccounted for from 12.18am until 1.26am.

Detective Superintendent Sean Wright said: "They have remained in the east Belfast area. Wherever they have been they have felt safe and secure in going there. I want to know where they were in that period of time.

"Particularly in those areas of the lower Newtownards Road, Albertbridge Road, Beersbridge Road, Mersey Street and Sydenham.

"Those vehicles were in that area, whether they were parked up or whether they were in someone else's house hiding away until such time as they felt it safe to plant a bomb under a police officer's car."

The senior detective wants to hear from anyone who saw the cars in the east Belfast area around the time in question.

"If you have photos, dash-cam footage or CCTV then I want to see it," he added.

Police are investigating the possibility that it was during this one-hour window that the suspects picked up the bomb which they then "recklessly" transported through a busy residential part of the city.

Both cars were subsequently seen travelling along the Newtownards Road towards the home of the officer who was targeted in the failed attack.

Police believe that the "sophisticated" device was attached to the policeman's Jeep at 1.26am and are desperately trying to establish where they went in east Belfast prior to this.

Appealing for information, Mr Wright added: "It is of paramount importance that we understand where those vehicles were throughout Friday and into Saturday, who was in them and what their movements were during that period.

"Violent dissident republicans have already demonstrated they don't care who they hurt and don't care who they kill, and nor do they listen to the overwhelming wishes and voice of our community. They are simply anti-peace and anti-democracy.

"Their reckless violence cannot be allowed to continue."

Both vehicles are captured again at 1.33am travelling back towards the city centre.

Mr Wright added: "I believe the terrorists had already planted the bomb at this time and were in the process of fleeing the scene."

Less than half an hour later the burning vehicles were abandoned in the Etna Drive area of Ardoyne.

The New IRA has claimed responsibility for planting the device, which is understood to have contained a motion-activated mercury tilt switch.

Such a device would require sudden movement in order to detonate.

In a statement, the terror group said: "We are confident the device would have exploded if it was not for the level terrain it had travelled on."

However, Mr Wright confirmed that the officer drove over a number of speed bumps on his way to the golf course.

It comes amid reports that an informant may have tampered with the bomb to prevent it going off. Mr Wright would not be drawn on such a possibility and said detectives are still trying to establish why the bomb failed to explode.

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