Irishman John Downey charged in 1982 Hyde Park cavalry bombing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 May, 2013, 4:52am


A 61-year-old Irishman was charged in Britain yesterday, with the Irish Republican Army bombing of the queen's ceremonial cavalry in Hyde Park in 1982, a strike at a top London tourist attraction that killed four soldiers and seven horses.

The Crown Prosecution Service said John Downey was arrested on Sunday at Gatwick Airport south of London and would be arraigned on four counts of murder and one count of causing an explosion.

Downey would be the third man to face trial for the July 20 twin bomb attacks on ceremonial troops performing in London, one of the most audacious operations ever mounted by the Provisional IRA.

The first bomb in Hyde Park was planted in a parked car and detonated by remote control as the mounted troops trotted towards Buckingham Palace.

Two hours later, a time bomb hidden inside a bandstand in nearby Regent's Park killed seven army musicians. Both bombs had mining explosives and nails, and 22 were hurt.

In 1987, a Northern Irishman, Danny McNamee, was convicted of conspiring to cause both blasts and received a 25-year sentence based on fingerprint evidence from bomb remnants. But judges in 1998 quashed the conviction, noting prosecutors had withheld forensic evidence of fingerprints implicating a senior IRA bomb-maker, Dessie Ellis.

Ellis today is a lawmaker in Ireland's parliament in Dublin representing the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party. He was extradited to Britain in 1990 to face charges of building both bombs, but he was acquitted as he had served eight years in prison for related charges in Ireland.