Belfast Telegraph

Daughter's last memory of Hyde Park bomb dad Jeffrey Young

Families’ misery continues as legal aid application is denied and prosecution is dropped... but victims chief warns Government it can no longer hide behind national security in legacy cases

By Bob Graham and Rebecca Black

The daughter of a soldier killed by the IRA's Hyde Park bomb has broken her silence to reveal that she heard the blast that took her father's life.

Sarah Young (38) spoke out after being dealt further heartache when her application for legal aid to fund a private prosecution against the main suspect was turned down.

Her father, Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, from Wales, was just 19 when he died along with Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright (36), Lieutenant Anthony Daly (23) and Trooper Simon Tipper (19) following the July 1982 bomb attack.

Seven horses were also either killed or had to be destroyed because of the severity of their injuries.

John Downey (64) was the main suspect, but the case against him spectacularly collapsed at the Old Bailey in 2014 after it emerged he had received a "comfort letter" telling him that he was no longer wanted by the police.

A judge ruled that the official communication meant Downey - who had denied murder - could not be prosecuted.

Ms Young spearheaded the push for a private prosecution, but her application for legal was rejected.

A Legal Aid Agency spokesman said: "Legal aid can only be granted where the case meets the statutory requirements for funding which has been set in law."

Sarah told the Belfast Telegraph that she was just four years old when she last saw her father.

She was in the nursery of Wellington Barracks - then the home of the Blues and Royals - as he turned and smiled at her as he went out of the door.

"I remember that day as clear as if it was today," she said. "I was in the nursery inside the barracks.

"He wasn't supposed to work that day, but the horses were playing up - they were agitated, as if they could sense something was about to happen."

A short time later, the children heard a deep rumble as the IRA car bomb exploded.

It had been placed in Hyde Park and detonated by remote control as members of the Royal Household Cavalry, Blues and Royals, passed by on their way to a Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Sarah and the other children ran to the windows, where they saw soldiers covered in blood. One had nails embedded in his hands from the bomb.

The images continue to haunt Sarah to this day. "The memories of that day hit me at unexpected moments, for instance on New Year's Eve, or something like that," she told this newspaper.

"I have the TV on loudly to block out the noise of fireworks. I daren't go out in case there are fireworks and loud bangs because the noise will set me back to when it happened. I can never forget."

In an emotional interview, Sarah also revealed she had in the past attempted suicide.

"My dad loved horses, I think that was the reason he joined the Blues and Royals," she added. "He loved his job and was proud of doing it. It wasn't until I was around 14 that I started having problems and needed to talk to try and bring them out.

"Sadly, my mother couldn't talk to me, though, because she always got upset by it.

"The way it was explained to me was that, aged four, a child's brain is like a sponge, and that I had absorbed everything. It was all lodged in my brain. My family keep an eye out for me now, but there's only so much they can do."

Sarah suffers from bipolar disorder as a consequence of the Hyde Park bombing. She now lives in a one-bedroomed housing association flat.

Her dream of following in her father's footsteps by joining the Army abruptly ended when she was a teenager after an accident at a cadet training camp left her with severe injuries.

Her father was only 15 when she was born to her mother, Judith.

"They were so in love and had to go before a judge to ask permission to get married," Sarah explained.

"The fact they were very young never bothered them - they were dedicated to me and my sister.

"In the Army, everyone seemed to like my father - all of the troopers seemed to want to help to look after us.

"It seems he spent his days talking about us. Even now, I stay in touch with all the boys who were injured that day. All of them tell me how wrong this decision not to grant legal aid is."

Ulster Unionist MP Danny Kinahan, who served with one of the victims in the Household Cavalry and who acted as best man at his wedding, said the refusal to grant legal aid was a disgrace.

"This refusal is an incredible decision given the amount of money in legal aid which is regularly handed over," he added.

"I would have thought it was very much in the public interest to help prosecute people suspected of murdering our fellow citizens, and I wish Sarah every success in her appeal."

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