Belfast Telegraph

Alleged IRA bomber John Downey hands himself over to police for extradition

Alleged IRA bomber John Downey
Alleged IRA bomber John Downey

By Aoife Moore

A man facing prosecution for the murder of two soldiers has been extradited to the UK after handing himself in to police in the Republic of Ireland.

John Downey, whose trial for the IRA's Hyde Park bombing collapsed in controversy five years ago, is wanted by prosecutors in Northern Ireland over the murders of two Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers in 1972.

Downey handed himself in on Friday, after he lost an appeal to challenge the extradition in July this year.

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill said the move is an "attempt to overturn due process" by the government.

Irish police released a statement on Friday evening, which said: "An Garda Siochana arrested a male in his sixties earlier today 11 October 2019.

"This male has been extradited to Northern Ireland in accordance with an EAW (European Arrest Warrant) issued by the PSNI."

The 67-year-old will now face trial in the UK.

Downey was arrested at his home in Donegal in October last year under a European Arrest Warrant after authorities in Northern Ireland determined they had sufficient evidence to charge him with the murders of Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, and Private James Eames, 33.

The soldiers died in a car bomb attack in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in August 1972.

A PSNI spokesperson said Downey is expected to appear before Omagh Magistrates' Court on Saturday morning.

"The PSNI has been liaising closely with An Garda Siochana and today's arrest demonstrates the benefits of joint working between police forces and other national partner agencies," they said.

"Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston - a father of four - and Private James Eames - a father of three - died when a device exploded in a car they were checking on the Irvinestown Road, Cherrymount, Enniskillen in 1972.

"The PSNI investigation into these murders remains active."

In response to the news, Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill claimed the extradition was "an attempt to overturn due process".

"John Downey’s case has already been before the courts. The British Government publicly stated then that he was not wanted in connection with any offence," she tweeted.

"The extradition request from the British Authorities is vindictive and in bad faith. It is an attempt to overturn due process."

In 2013, Downey was charged with murdering four Royal Household Cavalrymen in a bomb attack in London's Hyde Park in 1982.

He was tried at the Old Bailey in 2014 but the case dramatically collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former prime minister Tony Blair's government that he was not actively wanted by the authorities.

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

PA

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