John Anthony Downey

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John Anthony Downey.jpg
John Downey, February 2014

John Anthony Downey from County Donegal was arrested at Gatwick Airport on 19 May 2013 and appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 22 May 2013 charged with the murder of four Household Cavalry members who were killed in the July 1982 Hyde Park bombing. Downey denied all charges.[1]

John Downey's case was sent to the Old Bailey for a bail hearing on 24 May 2013 and a preliminary hearing on 5 June 2013.[2] Proceedings against Downey were dropped, and he was freed on 25 February 2014.[3]

In October 2018, John Downey was detained in the Republic of Ireland under a European arrest warrant in connection with the murders of Ulster Defence Regiment soldiers Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston and Private James Eames who were killed in 1972 when a device exploded in a car they were checking in Enniskillen.[4]

After being extradited to Northern Ireland, Downey appeared before Omagh Magistrates Court on Saturday 12 October 2019 when District Judge Michael Ranaghan said he envisaged a "long and protracted" legal process ahead. Downey was refused bail and remanded in custody until his next court appearance on 25 October 2019.[5]

Call for immediate release

John Downey's initial arrest in 2013 provoked a strong reaction from Sinn Féin who called for his immediate release. Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said Sinn Féin member Downey was a "long-time supporter of the Peace Process" and should be released. Gerry Kelly added:

"The decision to arrest and charge him in relation to IRA activities in the early 1980s is vindictive, unnecessary and unhelpful. It will cause anger within the republican community. Clearly, if John Downey had been arrested and convicted previously he would have been released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. As part of the Weston Park negotiation, the British Government committed to resolving the position of OTRs [‘On the Runs’]. John Downey received a letter from the Northern Ireland Office in 2007 stating that he was not wanted by the PSNI or any British police force. Despite travelling to England on many occasions, now – six years on – he finds himself before the courts on these historic charges. This development represents bad faith and a departure from what was previously agreed by both governments. John Downey needs to be released and allowed to return home to his family."[6]

Conditional bail

John Downey was granted conditional bail on 2 August 2013 to attend trial at the Old Bailey on 14 January 2014, where he was represented by Gareth Peirce who famously represented those wrongly accused of the Guildford Four bombing.[7] If he has the temerity to appear as an 'expert' witness at Downey's trial, Alan Feraday OBE should expect to face a withering cross-examination by Gareth Peirce.[8]

Abuse of process

On 25 February 2014, the BBC reported:

A man accused of killing four soldiers in the 1982 IRA Hyde Park bombing will not be prosecuted because he was given a guarantee he would not face trial. It follows a judge's ruling that an official assurance given in error meant John Downey's prosecution is "an abuse of process".[9]

Another Alan Feraday prosecution bites the dust!


References

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