FOUR PSNI Special Branch officers who failed to give information to detectives investigating the attempted murder of Catholic cop Peadar Heffron for over TWO YEARS are to be disciplined.
The police constable was seriously injured by a dissident republican bomb in January 2010 which exploded under his Alfa Romeo car as he drove to work along Milltown Road in Randalstown, Co Antrim.
A Police Ombudsman report has said repeated requests from the PSNI’s Major Investigation Team, which was probing the attempted murder, for information from C3 ‘Intelligence Branch’ did not get any meaningful response.
But it said there is insufficient evidence that police failed to act on a piece of information that could have prevented the attack.
Two detectives superintendents were disciplined but not to the level of sanction recommended by the Police Ombudsman
Two detective sergeants are still waiting to be disciplined.
A police intelligence asset named in the report as ‘Man A’ told police at the end of December 2009 of an attack being planned on police officers in ‘Milltown’.
Following the attack on Peadar Heffron, a C3 police officer contacted his asset to say that the “balloon had gone up” and he wanted to check things over again.
Asked why, the officer said: “We checked out every Milltown in Northern Ireland but we missed Milltown Road, Randalstown.”
It was a glaring mistake yet the Police Ombudsman says he cannot substantiate the complaint as ‘Man A’ kept no records of his conversations with the C3 police officer.
As captain of the PSNI’s Gaelic football team and an Irish language speaker, Constafble Peadar Heffron was a high-value target for dissident republicans trying to deter Catholics from joining the PSNI.
His leg was amputated and he suffered other serious injuries after a bomb exploded under his car in Randalstown, County Antrim.
He since left the police earlier this year and is in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Detectives trying to catch the Oglaigh na hEireann bombers contacted the PSNI’s C3 intelligence gathering department after Man A told them that he had passed on information about a planned attack at ‘Milltown’.
Several times they requested assistance, but they did not get it, says the report published today.
In one instance, detectives had to wait 28 months for information they requested.
A source close to the investigation has told Belfast Daily: “It wasn’t until ‘Man A’ made his complaint to the Police Ombudsman in September 2012 that things started to move.
“Police Ombudsman investigators spoke to MIT detectives in November 2012.
“By December 2012, C3 eventually handed the material over.
“So if if wasn’t for Man A’s complaint and the involvement of the Ombudsman this material may never have been handed over.
“Man A says he is disappointed that his complaint has not been upheld.”
Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said in his report: “I have concluded that C3 did not supply detectives with the information they sought.
“I am of the view that this was contrary to PSNI procedures.”