Family of David Caldwell still waiting for answers 20 years after Derry killing

The grieving daughter of David Caldwell, who was killed by a Real IRA bomb in Derry 20 years ago this week, has said her family cannot have ‘closure’ until they get answers over his death.

By Laura Glenn
Wednesday, 3rd August 2022, 11:47 am
The late David Caldwell, who was killed when a bomb detonated in 2002.
The late David Caldwell, who was killed when a bomb detonated in 2002.

Mr Caldwell, a former UDR soldier who had left the regiment, died after picking up a lunchbox that exploded at a Territorial Army base in Derry on August 1, 2002.

No one has ever been convicted of his death and his daughter, Gillian, who was just 14 when her father died, told the ‘Journal’ the family is still ‘searching for answers over what happened that day’.

In 2016, a book by a former soldier, titled ‘Charlie One’ claimed the Real IRA bombers and their car had been under surveillance in the days prior to the bombing.

The DUP's Gregory Campbell. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

He suggested that the surveillance team knew the car would be used to transport a bomb, but not that Mr Caldwell would be the target and that the team lost contact with the vehicle containing the explosive device.

The claims led the family to call on the Police Ombudsman to investigate.

On the 20th anniversary, DUP MP Gregory Campbell appealed for anyone with information about the murder to come forward.

He also urged the Police Ombudsman to provide answers about the investigation into claims that intelligence meant police could have done more to prevent the murder.

Gillian disclosed that, as the years pass by, her grief over her father’s murder gets deeper: “It was so sudden. It never even crossed our minds that this would happen.”

Her father, she explained, was a ‘quiet, laid back’ man and they were both ‘very alike, nature-wise.’ ”We were very, very close and I couldn’t accept this death.”

Her father, she explained, was a ‘quiet, laid back’ man and they were both ‘very alike, nature-wise’, adding:

“We were very, very close and I couldn’t accept this death.”

Her mother, Mavis, she added, was ‘never the same’ after her husband’s death and Gillian said it devastates her to realise that her children will never meet their grandfather. She added how the family’s 20 years search for answers and justice means they feel like they are still stuck in that awful day in 1992.

“There’s always something coming through the door - whether it’s a solicitor’s letter or something else. Every day there’s something, but it never seems to be moving any further forward.

“It’s like you’re reliving it every day. It’s also like they are just brushing my daddy’s death and me under the carpet. He was somebody - he was everything to us.”

She continued: “You’re stuck in that time zone - it happened in 2002 and we’re still stuck in it. We’re not able to move on. We’re never going to forget about him, but we need answers over what happened to him that day to get some closure. I don’t want my wee girls to turn around in years to come and say: ‘My granda was killed and we don’t know who did it’.

Gillian said that everyone who has lost someone, on both sides of the community, deserves to know the truth about their deaths.

“Everyone deserves the truth behind what happened. Northern Ireland is never going to move forward until everyone comes clean as to what happened their loved ones -whether it’s an IRA family, a UVF or UDA family etc.”

Gillian urged the soldier who wrote the book to come forward and speak with her,in order to provide closure and for the police to ‘do their jobs’.

She outlined how they are awaiting a response from the Supreme Court on an inquiry and said the Police Ombudsman must complete the investigation.

She paid tribute to Gregory Campbell for his support to the family, in what has been an ‘exhausting’ campaign for truth and justice. “I contacted the MOD myself a year ago and I’m still waiting on them to get back to me,” she said.

Gregory Campbell said: Monday 1st August marked “the 20th anniversary of the murder of David Caldwell by the Real IRA at a TA camp in Londonderry.

“No one has ever been charged in connection with his murder, in addition a serious allegation was subsequently made by a person claiming to be a former soldier who had authored a book claiming that intelligence meant the police could have done more to prevent the murder happening.

“I raised the issue with the Chief Constable initially and when the police response was unsatisfactory, then with the Police Ombudsman. It has now been under investigation by the Ombudsman for five years.

“The Caldwell family like countless others across Northern Ireland deserve both truth and justice for the murder of David. Those responsible for his murder were the terrorists who placed the bomb at the base; even after 20 years have passed there will be people who may have information that could help identify those behind this crime. There is also an onus on the Police Ombudsman to complete the investigation.

“I have also raised it with the Secretary of State. Such a delay only exacerbates the trauma suffered by the family in this case.

“They deserve at least to know what the outcome of that investigation has been.”