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London High Court rules John Downey responsible for Hyde Park bomb

John Downey

The High Court in London has ruled that IRA member John Downey was responsible for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing which killed four British soldiers.

Relatives of the four Royal Household Cavalrymen who died in the July 1982 blast brought the civil action against convicted IRA member John Downey after a criminal case collapsed.

Mrs Justice Yip ruled in favour of the families, saying: “This was a deliberate, carefully planned attack on members of the military.

“I have found that the defendant was an active participant in the concerted plan to detonate the bomb, with the intent to kill or at least to cause serious harm to members of the Household Cavalry.”

Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, Lieutenant Dennis Daly, 23, Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, also 19, were killed by a car bomb as they rode through the central London park to attend the changing of the guard.

Lord Brennan QC said: “Its objective was cold-blooded killing, with vicious brutality and maximum harm.

“The claimant’s case is that these devastating consequences were intended, including the murder of these four soldiers.”

The barrister told the court there was “clear” evidence of Downey’s involvement in the attack, such as “damning” fingerprint evidence.

Downey did not play any part in the trial but filed a written defence denying any involvement in the attack.

He was charged four years ago with the murders but his prosecution at the Old Bailey collapsed in 2014.

Family members of those killed launched legal action against Downey after the collapse of the trial.

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Two were killed instantly while L/Cpl Young and Maj Bright died from their injuries within days. Thirty-one other people were injured.

The criminal case against Downey, from Co Donegal, dramatically collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former prime minister Tony Blair’s government that he was no longer wanted.

The letter was issued under the terms of the controversial On The Runs (OTRs) Scheme.

Trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney ruled that Downey’s arrest at Gatwick Airport, as he passed through the UK on the way to a holiday in 2013, represented an abuse of process and he put a stay on any future prosecution.

Downey is currently in prison in Northern Ireland, facing a criminal prosecution for a car bomb attack which killed Ulster Defence Regiment members Alfred Johnston and James Eames in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in 1972.

The case will now progress to a second stage to determine the amount of damages to be awarded.


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