Northern Ireland

Double murder accused John Downey granted bail

John Downey Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption John Downey at a previous court hearing in October

A man charged with murdering two soldiers in 1972 has been granted bail.

John Downey, 67, is to be released on conditions including the lodgement of a £225,000 cash surety

A High Court judge ruled on Friday that the sum and the offer of a Belfast bail address eased any concerns he may try to flee.

Mr Downey is being prosecuted for a car bomb attack which killed Ulster Defence Regiment members Alfred Johnston and James Eames in Enniskillen.

The accused, of Creeslough in County Donegal, was detained in October 2018 under a European Arrest Warrant.

He fought a battle against extradition from the Republic of Ireland, before handing himself in to the authorities in October.

Lance Corporal Johnston and Private Eames died in an explosion on the Irvinestown Road in August 1972.

They were carrying out checks on a car when a command wire initiated device was detonated, killing them instantly.

The bomb went off as a truck carrying 13 off-duty soldiers approached, blowing it onto its side and injuring some of the troops inside.

Mr Downey is also charged with aiding and abetting an explosion likely to endanger life.

Curfew

He had been previously denied bail based on the risk that he could attempt to abscond.

Mr Downey's legal team maintained there had been a sufficient change of circumstances to warrant his release on bail.

An unprecedented amount of cash and equity was offered as part of the fresh legal attempt.

Granting bail, Mr Justice McAlinden confirmed that a £225,000 cash surety is to be lodged before he is released.

Mr Downey is to live at a Belfast property under curfew and is banned from leaving Northern Ireland.

He must also surrender any passports and report regularly to police as part of the conditions.