Former police officers have praised the car recovery specialist killed at the weekend as “having a heart like a lion” in the face of vicious attacks.
Terry Telford, who was fatally injured while working on a lorry at Nutts Corner, Co Antrim on Saturday, has been hailed by one ex-Andersonstown officer as “fearless” in the face of danger while recovering vehicles used in terrorism and other crime.
“Terry never turned down a call out to lift a car and took more hits from bricks and bottles than the police most of the time when trying to get into areas like Andytown after a serious incident,” he told the News Letter.
“I was stationed in west Belfast in the early 1990s and I would say Terry got a call out nearly every day.
“He didn’t care where it was or what hostile crowds were in the area – Terry arrived in no time at all in his lorry we called the ‘battle bus’ and recovered the car or van before all the evidence had been destroyed or the car torched.”
The ex-officer, who wishes only to be identified as David, said it was impossible to identify the make and model of Terry’s vehicle at the time due to the improvised protective measures he had added.
“It had heavy grills on all the windows and other bits added all over the place to deflect all the bricks and bottles thrown at it.
“He almost always got at least a load of verbal abuse collecting stolen cars and the like, just because he was working for the police, but there was some serious disorder at times and he took a lot of hits, but it never seemed to faze or annoy him.”
The former officer added: “He was such a slick operator around danger I couldn’t believe it when I heard he had been killed on the road.
“The man was an absolute legend and great craic to be around ... it’s very sad news.”
A number of other ex-RUC personnel with fond memories of Mr Telford paid their own tributes on Facebook.
One said: “I never knew a single occasion when Terry failed to turn up, or to go into a bad situation.”
Another said: “I lost count of the times Terry was the only contractor who would move in to lift a car so we could all get away from danger.
“His truck with all the mesh on the windows and bits stuck on here and there was like something out of Mad Max. I’ve no doubt he saved lives by getting us [police] in and out of certain areas in double quick time.”
Mr Telford’s funeral service will take place on Wednesday morning at Glengormley Methodist Church followed by burial at Ballinderry Middle Church graveyard.
He is survived by wife Grace and children Benjamin, Silas and Tobias.