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Hyde Park bomb families hope to see suspect in dock this year

By Rebecca Black

A man whose teenage brother was among four soldiers killed in the IRA's 1982 Hyde Park bombing says the families want to get one of the alleged bombers back in court for a civil case before the end of this year.

Mark Tipper, brother of victim Simon, said he and his wife sobbed with relief when they heard the news that - after five unsuccessful attempts - the families had been granted legal aid in their bid to bring Co Donegal man John Downey (66) before a civil court over the Hyde Park nail bomb.

Mr Tipper told the Belfast Telegraph that he had been inspired by the families of the Omagh bomb victims.

Legal history was made in 2013 when the Omagh bomb families took a civil case against Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly, who were found liable for the atrocity at their civil retrial.

Now the Hyde Park families hopes to replicate their success, and will use some of the same legal team.

Mr Downey was charged with the Hyde Park murders and stood trial at the Old Bailey in 2013. 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 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 Mr Downey's 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.

Downey has always denied any involvement in the attack.

The families of the murdered soldiers - Roy Bright, Anthony Daly, Simon Tipper and Geoffrey Young, all from the Household Cavalry - have served a writ signalling their intent to pursue a civil case against Mr Downey.

Mr Tipper said they hope the case will be heard towards the end of 2018. "After the case collapsed I was left in shock - it was then that the Omagh families inspired me to go through the civil courts," he said.

"But there has been a lot of fighting to get here. I felt like we had almost lost sight of our goal to hold someone to account for this after almost five years' fighting to get legal aid. I wasn't sure we would ever see this day."

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