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La Mon bomb widower Terry Lockhart dies at 72 in Asia

By Rebecca Black

Published 26/07/2016

Terry Lockhart in the Philippines, where he set up an orphanage
Terry Lockhart in the Philippines, where he set up an orphanage
Terry Lockhart with his wife Christine
Terry Lockhart (back) at his orphanage in the Philippines

A man who set up a charity to help homeless children in the Philippines in memory of his La Mon bomb victim wife Christine has died.

Terry Lockhart (72), who performed country and western music under the stage name Terry Nash, left Northern Ireland two years after the 1978 IRA massacre in which 12 people died.

Mr Lockhart, who was originally from Loughilly, Co Armagh, is believed to have been suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

It was reported last night that he had died peacefully at his home in the Philippines.

Mr Lockhart was due to attend the event that turned to unimaginable tragedy at La Mon House Hotel on February 17, 1978, but instead got a last-minute call to play a gig in Dungannon.

His world was turned upside-down that night when he heard about the fire-bomb horror on the radio as he travelled from Co Tyrone towards the hotel on the outskirts of east Belfast.

Prior to the IRA attack, Christine Lockhart had survived cancer.

Her left leg was amputated and half her pelvis removed in an operation that was pioneering at the time.

Her love of dogs led her to become involved with the Irish Collie Club, a dinner for which she was attending when the device exploded.

The 12 people killed in the La Mon atrocity were all Protestants and included three married couples. Twenty-three people were seriously injured in what witnesses described as a huge fireball.

Terry Lockhart (back) at his orphanage in the Philippines
Terry Lockhart (back) at his orphanage in the Philippines

Mr Lockhart previously spoke about how the loss of his beloved wife had left him completely shattered. An offer by the authorities of just £90 in compensation for his wife's life convinced him to move halfway around the world.

"That's how they valued our loved ones, so I thought the best thing to do was get out of Northern Ireland," Mr Lockhart said in an interview.

"I'd sung in places like Australia, New Zealand, Norway and the Philippines, so I plumped for the Philippines and settled there in 1983."

The widower set up an orphanage - Christine's Children - in memory of his wife.

The Co Armagh man went on to have two children with his second wife, Sheelagh.

His son Dillon was born at the same time and date as the bomb - 30 years later - and provided much solace to his father.

However, Mr Lockhart never lost hope that all those responsible for La Mon might one day be convicted and punished.

In 2012 a report by the Historical Enquiries Team into the atrocity found that crucial police documents pertaining to it had been lost.

Only one person was ever convicted in connection with the blast. West Belfast man Robert Murphy was sentenced to life imprisonment for manslaughter in 1981. He was released in 1995 and died in 2006. A second man was acquitted.

Terry Lockhart with his wife Christine
Terry Lockhart with his wife Christine

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