Sunday 21 January 2018

Donegal man charged in connection to 1982 London bombing back in court

Shane Hickey in London

A DONEGAL man charged with murdering four British soldiers over 30 years ago in one of the most notorious IRA atrocities of the Troubles appeared in court in London today.

John Anthony Downey, with an address at Ards, Creeslough in Donegal, is accused of being responsible for the 1982 Hyde Park bomb.

Downey (61) appeared in the Old Bailey today where administrative details in the case were dealt with.  January 14 next has been fixed for the start of the trial in the case.

He is accused of being responsible for the car bomb on South Carriage Drive in Hyde Park which killed four soldiers as they rode to the changing of the guard ceremony in Buckingham Palace.

He is charged with the murders of four members of the Royal Household Cavalry and also an explosives offence.

Roy John Bright, Dennis Richard Anthony Daly, Simon Andrew Tipper and Geoffrey Vernon Young were killed along with seven horses when a nail bomb exploded on July 20, 1982, as they rode from their barracks.

Downey was arrested in Gatwick airport on May 19 and charged by the Metropolitan police a few days later with the four murders and another charge of causing an explosion likely to endanger life.

Downey was previously granted bail subject to a series of conditions including providing £55,000 of bail money, wearing an electronic tag, living at a specified address with a curfew and reporting to a police station every day.  He did not speak in court today apart from to confirm his name. 

The Hyde Park bomb injured a number of civilians and police officers in addition to killing the four cavalrymen.

Two hours later on the same day, another bomb exploded in Regent's Park, killing seven Royal Green Jackets bandsmen. The charges against Downey are not connected to that bombing.

The explosions came just over a year after the death of Bobby Sands and other republican hunger strikers.

Another man, Gilbert 'Danny' McNamee was jailed for 25 years in 1987 after being found guilty of building the bomb used in the Hyde Park blast.

He was released from prison under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement and later saw his conviction overturned on the basis that it was unsafe.

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