DCSIMG

Judge halts Downey trial

Police forensic officers working on the remains of the IRA car in which the Hyde Park bomb, which killed four soldiers, was planted. Photo: PA Wire.

Police forensic officers working on the remains of the IRA car in which the Hyde Park bomb, which killed four soldiers, was planted. Photo: PA Wire.

The trial of Donegal man John Anthony Downey, who was charged with the murder of four members of the Household Cavalry in a bomb in 1982, has been stopped.

The 62-year-old who lives near Creeslough, was arrested at Gatwick last May has he passed through the UK on the way to a holiday in Greece.

The car bomb which exploded on July 20, 1982 as the soldiers road past on the way from their barracks to Buckingham Palace, killed the four soldiers. Seven horses also died in the explosion.

At the Old Bailey last Friday, Mr Justice Sweeney ruled that the case could not go ahead.

The judge accepted the argument, made by Downey’s lawyers, that he could not be prosecuted because of a deal made as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

Downey was one of 187 IRA suspects who, in 2007, received letters of assurance that they were no longer wanted by any police force in the UK.

The judge said it “offends the court’s sense of justice and propriety to be asked to try the defendant”.

He understood the desire to put someone on trial and the feelings of the victims and their families.

There was however, he added: “greater public interest in holding officials of the state to promises they have made in full understanding of what is involved in the bargain”.

Although the judgement was delivered last Friday, the information could not be released until today, when it was confirmed that the Crown Prosecution Service will not be appealing the decision.

The victim’s families issued a statement saying they felt ““devastatingly let down” at the outcome.

Donegal Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty has welcomed the ruling, saying “John Downey should never have been arrested”.

He continued: The arrest and detention of John was a clear breach of commitments given by the British Government at Weston Park and in subsequent agreements.

“I welcome his release and look forward to seeing him at home in Donegal in the near future.”

 
 
 

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