Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Donegal man on multiple murder charge over IRA Hyde Park bombing

A Donegal man has been charged with murdering four British soldiers over 30 years ago in one of the most notorious IRA atrocities of the Troubles.

John Anthony Downey, with an address at Ards, Creeslough in Donegal, appeared in court in London yesterday following his arrest in connection with the 1982 Hyde Park bombing.

The 61-year-old was 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 to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard.

Downey was arrested in Gatwick airport on Sunday before being charged by the Metropolitan police yesterday.

He appeared at Westminster Magistrates' court in the afternoon wearing a grey jumper and white-striped shirt after arriving in a convoy of police vehicles. He spoke only to confirm his name, address and age.

The four murder charges and another charge of causing an explosion likely to endanger life were detailed in court before district judge Quentin Purdy sent him forward for trial at the Central Criminal Court.

The judge said the court did not have the power to consider bail and told Downey that he had to be remanded in custody. There will be a bail hearing tomorrow.

Downey's solicitor, Gareth Peirce, told the court that there were "very many questions" to be asked about why the warrant for her client's arrest had been enforced now after 30 years.

When asking the court that her client's full address not be read out in court, she said there were many lives involved which "may have moved on".

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

Two hours later, 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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