Gavin Coyle was sentenced today, Friday 6 October, in connection with the attempted murder of a police officer in County Tyrone.

Coyle had previously pleaded guilty to membership of a proscribed organisation, namely the Real IRA, and also to providing property to be used for the purpose of terrorism.

The 46-year-old, who appeared before Belfast Crown Court, was sentenced to six years, two-thirds of which will be served in custody.

The attack, which caused serious injuries to a police officer, took place in May 2008 near Castlederg. 

Detective Inspector Hazel Miller said: “The officer was injured after a device exploded underneath his car, in an attack later claimed by the Real IRA.

“The officer had set off, driving to work for night duty at around 9pm on Monday 12 May 2008, and had only gone a short distance when the bomb exploded. 

“He recalls looking down and seeing blood around his legs, and a hole in the floor of the car.  He managed to bring the car to a stop and to get out.  He collapsed at the side of the road, and saw the car go on fire.

“Members of the public were quick to rally, and stayed with the injured officer, trying to keep him calm, before Police and Ambulance Service colleagues arrived and delivered first aid.

“The officer was taken to hospital and, thankfully, survived. He had initial surgery for deep puncture wounds to, and lacerations in, the muscles of his leg.  This was followed by a further operation and, later, plastic surgery.

“No one should ever have to experience such a cruel ordeal, the lasting impact of which isn’t just felt by the victim, but by family and loved ones too.”

Detective Inspector Miller continued: “This was a cowardly, calculated and cold-blooded attack, carried out with one aim: to take the life of a police officer.

“Gavin Coyle accepts that he was a member of the IRA and that he provided his car to others knowing it would be used for the purpose of terrorism. 

“Our officers are committed to keeping people safe.  Their dedication, and indeed the actions of those members of the public who ran to help, are in stark contrast to those intent on harming and killing.

“I’m keen to extend a sincere thank you to those who were first on the scene – members of the public, paramedics and officers. And I’d also like to acknowledge the subsequent tremendous support from surgeons, doctors and nurses.”

She added: “Today, Coyle has been held accountable for his role in this nightmarish attack.

“We will continue to robustly investigate and disrupt the criminal and terrorist activities of those who bring violence to our doorsteps.  This, of course, relies upon collective efforts and I am appealing to anyone with information, or indeed concerns, to contact us on 101.”

Information can also be provided to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at