The Observer from London, Greater London, England on June 3, 1990 · 3
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The Observer from London, Greater London, England · 3

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London, Greater London, England
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 3, 1990
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3
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3 GE3 Police plead for eyewitnesses to come forward after shooting shatters the peace of a cathedral city OBSERVER SUNDAY 3 JUNE 1990 Gnamimnieini who came, killed and melted into streets ofLidhdEeldl Peter Beaumont THE two IRA gunmen who fired at point-blank range into three young, off-duty soldiers on a crowded Lichfield station platform, fatally wounding one and injuring the two others, struck with appalling ease. Yesterday police investigating the latest terrorist atrocity against a 'soft' military target described how the two young killers, almost certainly assisted by a getaway driver, simply materialised on the long central platform and opened fire. And just as easily they disappeared. As details emerged of the first mainland shooting by the Provisional IRA since the Balcombe Street terror campaign in the mid-Seventies, it had the marks of a carefully planned operation, despite the apparent audaciousness of the undertaking. The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Chief Superintendent Malcolm Be-vington, yesterday issued an urgent appeal for further eyewitnesses to the shooting and the subsequent escape to come forward. Some 120 officers from the Staffordshire police, British Transport Police, Special Branch and the anti-terrorist branch have interviewed four eyewitnesses . and were making house-to-house inquiries yesterday around the escape route. Mr Bevington also called on hoteliers and owners of bed and breakfast accommodation to come forward if they knew where the two or three Irishmen were staying before the evening's attack. The catalogue of events that led to the shooting began at about 5.30pm on Friday at Whittington Barracks, a training depot for the Prince of Wales Division, two miles from Lichfield station, when . . the three young soldiers, - all . of whom had served just 12 weeks' basic training, set off for a weekend's leave. The dead soldier, Private William Davies, 19, from Pon-tarddulais, near Swansea, and his two companions, Robert Villagers grieve over their lost son THE announcement that the IRA has 'executed' yet another victim is the fear that every soldier's parents live with. Worst of all is the report of deaths but no names and the awful wait until they are known. And then the relief, followed by guilt, that it is some other mother's boy dead, writes Barry Hugill. On Friday night it was Mrs Helen Davies and her ex-miner husband, Desmond, who were being consoled. Their only son, 19-year-old Private William Robert Davies, was on his way home to Pontarddulais, near Swansea, when he was shot at Lichfield station. Tall and lean with natural sporting ability, he was determined to become an officer. His aunt, Mrs Christine Lewis, who lives near his parents, said: 'He was coming home to see us all this weekend but now we will never see him again.' His old schoolfriends still cannot believe , what has happened. It was well known that his mother had asked him not to enlist for fear of what could happen. Upsetting her had caused him heartache, they said. A tearful Mrs Davies said: THE shooting in Lichfield of Private William Davies, aged 19, is the latest in a 15-year cycle of deadly IRA attacks in Britain. Recent attacks include: September 1989: Bomb explosion at the Royal Marine School of Music, Deal, Kent, 11 killed. November 1989: A booby-trapped car outside Colchester barracks results in an army sergeant losing both legs. February 1990: Three injured in a bomb explosion at army recruiting office in Leicester. February 1990: Bomb pushed through letterbox destroyed army careers office in Halifax. May 1990: Sgt Charles Chapman killed in bomb attack on his car in Wembley, north London. May 1990: Explosion at a Royal Army Educational Corps headquarters in Eltham, south-east London, injured seven civilians. June 1990: Private Davies shot dead at Lichfield railway station, and two other privates wounded. Parkin, 20, and Neil Evans, 19, also from South Wales, travelled by taxi from the base to the station just outside the city centre to catch a train to Birmingham. At about 5.58 they entered the station, bought tickets, walked to the central platform and sat down to wait the five minutes for their train. Much of what happened next is unclear. According to Mr Bevington, two young men, barefaced but with their faces shielded by baseball caps and wearing casual clothes, simply 'appeared' within feet of the seated soldiers and fired at almost point-blank range into their bodies with handguns. At least seven shots were fired, fatally wounding Pte Davies in the neck and body, seriously wounding Pte Parkin in the neck and shoulder and hitting Pte Evans in the arm. Another shot hit the wall of an empty train standing nearby as other people on the platform dived for cover. Within seconds the two gunmen had turned and fled, leaving the three soldiers surrounded by their luggage, lying in a pool of blood. The two gunmen leapt from the platform on to the Birmingham-bound tracks and darted in front of the oncoming train for which the three soldiers had been waiting. Once across the track the gunmen scaled a fence into Barnes's builders yard, from where they are believed to have crossed another wall and run the length of nearby Wharf Lane, where police suspect a car was waiting for them. The younger of the two men was described as being between 18 and 20 years old, 5ft 10 to six feet tall and wearing a navy and green jacket, dark track-suit trousers and trainers. The second, older, man was wearing a brown leather jacket and jeans. Both men were also described as being clean-shaven and wearing black baseball caps. Mr Bevington said that he would not rule out the possibil- Prlvate Davies. 'They are cowards. We didn't want him to go to the Army.' ' Another aunt, Mrs Brenda Jones, called the attack 'wicked and senseless'. Even in their grief his relatives had thoughts for the other casualty. James Dillon-Lee, aged 10, and his seven-year-old brother Mark, lost their father; their mother, Rosalind, a husband when Dortmund-based Major Michael Dillon-Lee, 34, was shot dead. The murders come only five days after two Australians were taken to be British soldiers and shot by the IRA in Holland. Gerry Adams, leader of its political wing, said killing Stephen Melrose, 24, and Nicholas Spa-nos, 28, was 'inexcusable.' He says the deaths will 'cause deep regret to Irish republicans'. In the Wheatsheaf pub where Robert Davies planned to drink last night there was 'deep regret' of a different kind. British soldiers serving in Europe, and their families, are now regular IRA targets. Recent attacks include: July 1989: A soldier filled and his wife and four children injured after car bomb explosion in Hanover, West Germany. September 1989: Heidi Hazell, 26, the German-born wife of a British soldier, was shot dead in her car in Dortmund, West Germany. October 1989: A corporal and his sixth-month-old daughter shot dead as they left a restaurant in Wildenrath, West Germany. December 1989: Policeman investigating arms smuggling in Belgium shot and wounded by member of the Irish People's Liberation Organisation. May 1990: Two Australian tourists shot dead in Roermond, Holland. June 1990: Major Michael Dillon-Lee, 34, shot dead on his way home from his base in Dortmund, West Germany. Wounded Privates Nell ity of a link between the station shooting and the recent arrest of a young Irishman in London, based at an agricultural college in Gnosall, 20 miles from Lichfield, who was found in poses-sion of two loaded AK-47 automatic rifles. The arrest last month sparked a search in the area for a suspected IRA arms cache. Mr Bevington said that he was convinced that the shooting had been carefully planned in advance, and that the gunmen had almost certainly visited both'the barracks and the station in preparation. In particular he pointed to the way in which the men had used the wall abutting Wharf Lane to cover their escape. He said: 'There was a long wall between them and the scene of the attack, and they were almost immediately out of sight of the mayhem they had caused.' Yesterday the soldiers' commanding officer, Col Colin Par-slow, spoke of his anger at the attack. Clearly upset by the incident, he condemned the shooting as 'an outrageous and cowardly attack on my young soldiers'. He said that he had spoken, to Pte Davies's parents to express his sympathy at their son's death. He said he had also spoken to Ptes Parkin and Evans, who he described as being in 'very good spirits'. He said that both men had expressed their determination to rejoin their Strategy aimed at spreading terror to the mainland Mary Holland THE COMMANDING officer of Major Dillon-Lee, who was shot dead by the IRA in Dortmund in the early hours of Saturday morning, has described his killers as 'psychopaths who cruelly enjoy murder'. This may be an understandable reaction to the killing of a valued officer, but it is not an accurate description of the IRA and betrays a dangerous ignorance of its strategy. The men who killed Major Dillon-Lee are likely to have been both highly motivated and audacious. The operation was part of a campaign which has been carefully devised by the IRA over a long period and which police in Britain and the Continent expect to continue. Security sources believe that the murder of Major Dillon-Lee was a swift reaction by the IRA to counter the damaging fall-out in propaganda terms from the killing of two young Australian tourists at Roermond in Holland last Sunday. The IRA later described the Australians' deaths as a 'tragic mistake'. But even this incident should be seen in the context of what the IRA hopes to achieve by its terrorist campaign on the Continent. This is to sicken public opinion in Britain and build a demand for withdrawal from Northern Ireland. The day after the murder of the two Australians, despite public expressions of regret, republican sources were prepared to admit that the overall impact of the incident would not necessarily be particularly damaging to the IRA itself. The outcry in Australia was not nearly as important as if the incident had involved American tourists, and in Britain the effect of the shooting might well be to alarm English tourists travelling on the Continent. The Provisionals have always seen considerable propaganda advantages in broadening the range of their terrorist campaign to include Britain and the Continent. What has limited Evans, left, and Robert Parkin, are visited by their commanding officer, Col Colin I IRA killers appear PT" D Rclad0"8 on platform, shoot "N mk, 3 British soldiers "egr-J and escape by -Sx 1 running over south- Hsn I Gunmen bound track in front HL- jjBSSj I escape of oncoming train ' in getaway J colleagues to the. end of training in two weeks' time. The suddenness of the attack in such a public place has also shocked the usually quiet and leafy Midlands city and last night prayers were said at the cathedral for the young victims. At the nearby bus station cafe, customers pored over copies of them in the past has been the logistical difficulties of setting up and funding active service units capable of operating with a high degree of autonomy. Since 1988, when the current campaign started in earnest, the Provos appeared to have overcome many of these problems. This is the most security-conscious area of all the IRA's operations, but recent police successes in arms hauls and intelligence gathering point to a number of factors involved. The first, generally accepted by the security forces on both sides of the Irish Sea, is that the IRA is now better armed than it has been for a long time. The Irish police believe the Provos have sufficient supplies of Sem-tex, the sophisticated explosive provided for them by Colonel Gadaffi, to keep them in business for another 10 years. Of equal importance, police also think there is more Semtex concealed in dumps in Britain than in Ireland itself. The IRA also appears to have overcome problems with personnel which were apparent when well-known activists like Mairead Farrell were sent to Gibraltar. In Britain police believe that it has been able to deploy young people who have perfectly legitimate reasons for working and studying in the community. On the Continent, the key to the IRA's success lies in the bases it has been able to establish in Holland, where attitudes to immigrants tend to be comparatively relaxed. Of the 20 or so attacks on the Continent since 1988, the vast majority had been within easy driving reach of the Dutch border. The Irish police believe that a number of experienced IRA activists, who escaped from the Maze prison in Belfast in 1983 and who are still unaccounted for, may be living in the Netherlands with new passports and identities that had been organised for them over the intervening period. Peter Brooke profile, page 17. Comment, page 18. the morning papers and -discussed the killing in tones from hushed to outraged. Outside the station, which had been closed until the white-suited forensic scientists had completed their work, passengers waiting for a shuttle bus to nearby Blake Street station also condemned the outrage and Motpdiftt have always given you more. " '' 'V- - '!3m&-'J& fJk'T'i? . On top of more ehpice, features, colour options, value and after sales service - a 90 day Satisfaction Guaranteed.or your money back promise, a Free Five Year Parts Guar- nleIife6 rtpliK msmmimmmmmmmmssxmms! HIfmS3m33 d t-Kill pi 111 f - , H " ; h i 7 a Bmm Hf For your nearest Hotpoint Centre, who will give details of . - these and other offers, call Hotpoint Sales on 0733 556699; jj Also available from leading Electrical Retailers! spoke of their fears that the killers would escape detection. One father of a young, family said: 'It's terrible, you half expected it at the barracks, but not on a crowded station. It makes me very angry but I don't see how they'll catch them. They've been looking for these people for years.' ms2 I nmmimii iiuinmwmiin" II 11. s Parslow, in Good Hope Hospital, Sutton Coldfleld IRA cells plotting gun war in Britain Continued from page 1 killing of Maj Dillon-Lee. 'It has been f . . . ing easy,' a voice shouted from a car that drove up to a British Army barracks in the northern part of the city five minutes after the shooting early yesterday. Maj Dillon-Lee, 34, died almost immediately after his attacker fired several shots into his car, hitting him in the head. He had just driven from his base in Dortmund to his home in the Gartendstadt area of the city with his wife, Rosalind. Neighbours described how they found her screaming: 'Help me, help me! Please help me,' as Maj Dillon-Lee lay slumped in the driveway of their house. The couple's sons, James, nine, and Mark, seven, were in bed when they were woken by the sound of shots. . , Yesterday afternoon one of the few signs' of the shooting was a single bullet hole in the metallic, garage door ,o the left .. of the Dillon-Lees'-neatly kepti two-storey home. v ("; The family name could . be seen next to the door-bell easily identifying the occupiers as British and it was learned the major had been driving a car with British number plates. Po lice said the killer fled in a car and narrowly escaped arrest after a high-speed police chase through the German countryside. About 30 minutes later, the gunman and his accomplice in the car managed to shake off police and their vehicle was later found abandoned. Jurgen Dahlbudding, who lives almost opposite the Dillon-Lees's home, said he was closing his windows when he heard up to six shots. ' He said: 'I saw a white car drive past very fast outside in the street. I saw two young men were in the car . I could not see if they were wearing masks. Then everybody came, out of their houses. The wife was calling for the police. She was shouting: "Help me, help me." . I saw the man lying on the ground near the car. It was too late to help. I called., for the '.police, myself, : and they got here very fast.' ,.. Rolf Hannich, spokesman for the fedeirosecutdr's Office in Karlsruhe, said cartridges found after the shooting indicated that a Kalashnikov rule was used in the attack. The weapon is a favourite of thd; IRA. The. cartridges are now being examined by forensic experts in Wiesbaden.

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