Belfast Telegraph

Hyde Park bombing suspect does not intend to take part in High Court case

Relatives of the four Royal Household Cavalrymen who died in the July 1982 blast are suing John Downey, who has always denied involvement.

A convicted IRA member suspected of involvement in the Hyde Park bombing has said he does not intend to take part in a High Court claim brought against him by the victims’ families.

Relatives of the four Royal Household Cavalrymen who died in the July 1982 blast are suing John Downey, who has always denied involvement in the attack.

Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright, 36, Lieutenant Dennis Daly, 23, Trooper Simon Tipper, 19, and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young, 19, were killed by a car bomb as they rode through the central London park to attend the Changing of the Guard.

Mr Downey was charged four years ago with the murders, but the prosecution at the Old Bailey collapsed.

Although he says at the moment he is not going to participate, we have to assume that at some point he might change his mind about that Anne Studd QC

Family members of those killed launched legal action against Mr Downey after the collapse of the trial.

During a brief hearing on Tuesday, Master Richard Davison was told Mr Downey “leaves everything in the court’s hands” and said he is not in a position to make any legal submissions at this stage.

The judge, sitting in London, was dealing with preliminary issues ahead of a five-day trial due to take place after October 1 next year.

  • Squadron Quartermaster Corporal Roy Bright
  • Lieutenant Dennis Daly
  • Trooper Simon Tipper
  • Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young

Anne Studd QC, representing the families, told the judge Mr Downey has filed a defence to the claim.

She said: “Although he says at the moment he is not going to participate, we have to assume that at some point he might change his mind about that.”

Ms Studd said Mr Downey challenges expert evidence relating to fingerprints found at the scene.

He also claims it is too late for any legal action to be brought against him, given the passage of time since the bombing.

The barrister told the judge Mr Downey has assets which could be used to pay any damages in the event he is found liable for the bombing.

She said he is believed to own two properties in Ireland, one of which has been transferred in part to his wife, while the other has been part sold to another person.

Matthew Jury, the solicitor acting for the families, told the judge Mr Downey said recently he has not been receiving mail from the court.

He added: “The difficulty we have is he has not been willing to tell us where he lives.”

Master Davison said the case will be split into two, with the first stage focusing on whether Mr Downey is liable for the bombing and the second considering the level of damages.

None of the families attended the hearing.

They initially asked for help with legal fees through crowdfunding after being refused legal aid five times, but The Sun revealed in February that they have been granted public funding.

Speaking at that time, a Legal Aid Agency spokesman confirmed the award of legal aid and said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with those affected by this atrocity.”

The car bomb left in South Carriage Drive killed the four soldiers and injured others as they travelled from their barracks to Buckingham Palace.

Seven horses were also killed and another horse, Sefton, survived terrible injuries.

The criminal case against Mr Downey, from Co Donegal, dramatically collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former prime minister Tony Blair’s government that he was no longer wanted.

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

Trial judge Mr Justice Sweeney ruled that his arrest at Gatwick Airport, as he passed through the UK on the way to a holiday, represented an abuse of process and he put a stay on any future prosecution.

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