Appeal after claim in book penned by ex-soldier
The family of a Real IRA victim has appealed for help from an ex-soldier who said a botched British Army surveillance operation led to the booby-trap bomb murder.
A dramatic claim about the 2002 killing of former UDR member David Caldwell (51) is made in the book, Charlie One, by a former member of military intelligence writing under the pseudonym Sean Hartnett.
On the 20th anniversary of his death tomorrow, his family is appealing for the writer to get in touch to “help us get closure”.
Mr Caldwell’s daughter Gillian McFaul told the Sunday Independent: “The police say they have been in contact with him through letters and they know who he is, but they say they have never actually got the chance to meet him.
“He does not have to make himself known to me or my family, or come into the public eye, but I would like him to contact the relevant authorities to try to help us get closure.
“This would help me get on with my life with my children. I don’t want something coming out in another 20 years. I don’t want that for them.”
Mr Caldwell died in an explosion at the Territorial Army Caw base in Derry where he worked as a digger driver.
The father-of-four picked up a booby-trap lunch box that had been left in a workers’ hut the previous night by members of the terror gang. In the book, Sean Hartnett, who claims to have grown up in Cork before joining the British Army and being deployed to Northern Ireland in 2001, says he was involved in an intelligence operation against the Real IRA.
He claims the security forces were aware that the key suspect’s car was being used to transport a bomb but did not know the intended target. This white Vauxhall Cavalier was loaded with electronic surveillance equipment and tailed for days.
Hartnett says the vehicle travelled south before returning across the border two days before the murder to meet another vehicle.
The author, who was based with the North Det intelligence team in Co Londonderry, explained how when the two cars parted, the officer in charge opted to maintain surveillance on the Vauxhall instead of following the other car.
However, it appeared that the killers “wrong-footed” the intelligence operatives and the other vehicle is believed to have been used in the attack that killed Mr Caldwell.
Hartnett writes: “Until now, no one had any knowledge of North Det’s involvement in the incident.”
Mr Caldwell’s daughter McFaul believes her father’s death has been “brushed under the carpet” because it happened at a time when the focus was on keeping the fragile peace process on track.
She will visit his grave on the anniversary of his murder tomorrow, saying: “I will remember the good times and try not to remember the bad. At the minute, I remember the bad memories more than the good.”
Recalling the “devastating” impact the killing had on her, Gillian added: “I had to leave school to look after my mother because she took sick. I left school with no education and had to restart again when I was 17. I went off the rails and did not have a father figure.
“I was bitter for a long time but I had to learn that you don’t get anywhere by being bitter.”