Belfast Telegraph

I was holding Warrington bomb boy Johnathan Ball’s hand as he was killed

Babysitter badly injured in Warrington relives horror

By Brett Campbell

The babysitter who was holding the hand of three-year-old Johnathan Ball when he was killed by an IRA bomb in Warrington 25 years ago has called for a police investigation into the attack to be reopened.

Speaking for the first time since two bombs exploded on a busy shopping street in the Cheshire town in March 1993, Samantha Thompson (38) recalled the chilling moment the youngster was murdered before her eyes.

The mum-of-two was 13 when she innocently ran towards the second explosion on Bridge Street with her "nosey" pals who thought the first blast was the sound of something heavy falling off a lorry.

"It is as clear as ever, as if it was yesterday," she said.

"Me and Johnathan continued to run - I did not know what it was and I can't remember anyone running away.

"We stood alongside the bin just looking up the street and it went off. Johnathan was still holding my hand."

The youngster was killed almost instantly and Samantha's body was riddled with shrapnel.

"I will never forget the smell - it was like lighting a match, a burning smell," she recalled.

Despite being seriously injured, Samantha dragged Johnathan to safety in a futile effort to save him.

"My instinct took over. I just got my hands under his armpits and dragged him into a shop doorway," she added. "I did not have a clue I was hurt."

She described the heartbreaking moment a passer-by came to help them.

"He rolled Johnathan over and I remember him saying: 'He's gone'.

"His little eyes were half shut and I passed out - that is the last time I saw him."

Samantha woke up in hospital several days later having undergone several operations to have shrapnel removed from her stomach and legs.

Despite reassurances from her mother that Johnathan was "just down the corridor", she said she knew he was dead.

An investigation into the IRA attack - which also claimed the life of 12-year-old Tim Parry and injured 54 people - was closed in 1995. No one has ever been charged.

Ms Thompson decided to speak out after attending a memorial event last month in the hope that someone with information might contact police.

"I feel very strongly about that," she said.

"It is just very sad that no one has ever been brought to justice and all these years have passed."

She also revealed that Johnathan's parents Wilf and Marie, who have both passed away, always assured her that what happened was not her fault.

Cheshire Police said the force did not currently have any active lines of enquiry but "if any information is received" then they will review it.

Belfast Telegraph

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