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There may have been a prior attempt of DCI John Caldwell’s life, court hears

Latest development comes as case approaches the one year mark

DCI John Caldwell appeal

A forty-four-year-old man has appeared before a special court sitting charged with attempting to murder Detective Chief Inspector John Caldwell as he coached a youth football team.

It was disclosed there may have been a prior attempt to carry out the attack around three weeks beforehand, however, the football practice had been cancelled that night.

As the one year mark of the attack approaches, Alan Lundy from Flax Street, Belfast is also accused of directing terrorism and preparation of terrorist acts.

He sat with him arms folded throughout refusing to speak during the proceedings and his solicitor had to confirm his identity.

In the process of the hearing District Judge Michael Ranaghan was drawn to the behaviour of a number of men in the courtroom who were causing disruption.

He asked those in attendance to stand up and a number did, however the others remained seated.

They were asked to stand up and again and on refusing, Judge Ranaghan said: “You are disrespecting the court. Leave now.”

They refused and the judge directed court security to remove the men.

While being escorted out one shouted, “Justice” after which Judge Ranaghan ordered this individual’s name to be obtained, which police in attendance were able to provide.

A detective sergeant from the PSNI Serious Crime Branch told Dungannon Magistrates Court the charges against Lundy could be connected, adding it is believed he is, “integral to the purchase, storage and disposal of vehicles.”

These were sourced in a number of places including Belfast and stored before being moved to Tyrone.

There were also alleged meetings between Lundy and other key figures involved including those currently charged with the attack.

The detective spoke of a potential 13 incidents in the seven weeks prior to attack “potentially linked”.

He continued, “We do not say the defendant was at the scene of the attack nor was in possession of any firearm used in the incident.”

In interviews lasting a total of 7 hours 44 minutes, Lundy gave no comment or explanation for any of the allegations put to him.

It was further confirmed his phone has not been recovered.

It was also disclosed there may have been a previous attempt to attack DCI Caldwell on 1 February 2023, three weeks before the incident as a particular car linked to the incident was spotted in the Youth Sport area, however training was cancelled that night.

While the defence did not seek bail at this stage, she contended “Police have created a narrative that’s not supported by any evidence.”

Judge Ranaghan remanded Lundy in custody to appear by video-link at Omagh Magistrates Court later this month.

Lundy’s arrest brings the total number of people facing charges in connection with the shooting to 11 and the eighth accused of attempted murder.

The attack, which occurred at Omagh Youth Sport Centre on 22 February 2023, was claimed by the New IRA and allegedly involved organised criminality.

Lundy is the eighth person to be charged with attempting to murder DCI Caldwell, the other seven being Robert McLean (29) of Deveney Park, Omagh, James Ivor McLean (72) of the same address, Matthew McLean (33), Glenpark Road, Omagh, Jonathan McGinty (28) of St Julians Downs, Omagh, Brian Carron (38) of Claremount Drive, Coalisland, Gavin Coyle (45) of Killybrack Mews, Omagh and Alan McFarland (47) of Deverney Park, Omagh.

Carron and Coyle are further accused of belonging to the IRA.

In addition, James Gerard McSorley (58) from Chichester Mews, Belfast, John Andrew Gallagher (45) from Church Drive, Newtownabbey and Tony Thomas Slevin (47) from Derryloughan Road, Coalisland are charged with preparing for acts of terrorism in relation to a Ford Fiesta believed to have been used in the attack.

Slevin had been granted bail after a time in custody however this was recently revoked after police discovered he had a suspected “burner phone”.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the assailants fled in a blue Ford Fiesta, which was later found burnt out near Racolpa Road in Omagh.

They then reportedly switched to a black Mercedes, which drove them to Deverney Park where they went to the rear of a house then left again in a white Transit Van

Both weapons used in the attack are still unaccounted for.

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