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Thursday, December 17, 1998 Published at 11:53 GMT


Man wins IRA bomb appeal

Danny McNamee: Freed under Good Friday Agreement

Danny McNamee, who was found guilty of the IRA's 1982 Hyde Park bombing which killed four members of the Household Cavalry and seven horses, has won his appeal against his conviction.

BBC Home Affairs Correspondent Graeme Mclagan: Appeal Court judges did not exonerate McNamee
Prosecutors relied heavily on traces of Mr McNamee's fingerprints found on remnants of the bomb and two other arms caches to convict him in 1987.

But three Court of Appeal judges accepted that it might have made a difference had jurors known that many more prints from a known IRA bomb-maker were also on the bomb remains.

The Appeal Court judges said their decision that the conviction was unsafe did not mean that he was innocent of the charge.

Lord Justice Swinton Thomas said a "strong case" had been made at his 1987 trial that Mr McNamee was guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions.

However, he said the Court of Appeal could not say the jury at that trial would have reached the conclusion they did on Mr McNamee's guilt if the fresh evidence heard at the appeal hearing had been available to it.

[ image: Carnage of the Hyde Park bomb]
Carnage of the Hyde Park bomb
Afterwards, Mr McNamee, who has consistently protested his innocence, hugged and kissed jubilant wellwishers.

He said: "Of course I'm vindicated. It's proved I was not guilty, even in a really grudging way."

Mr McNamee, 38, from Crossmaglen, South Armagh, was sentenced to 25 years in jail for his alleged part in the bombing.

Fingerprint evidence

He was released earlier this year from the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland after serving 12 years under the Good Friday Agreement on the political future of Northern Ireland.

The BBC's Gary Duffy: Mr McNamee has always protested his innocence
Mr McNamee was linked to the bombing conspiracy through fingerprint evidence.

But he claimed that one of the three prints claimed to be his on tape connected with the bomb-making equipment was not his.

At his trial he said his prints had got onto the equipment innocently because had had used the tape working at an electrical repair shop.

Mr McNamee's case was referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission after inquiries into a number of issues, including disclosure of more fingerprint evidence at the time of his trial.

[ image: Michael Mansfield: Prosecution painted false picture of Mr McNamee]
Michael Mansfield: Prosecution painted false picture of Mr McNamee
During the appeal hearing Mr McNamee's counsel Michael Mansfield QC claimed the prosecution at his Old Bailey trial painted a false picture of him as the "master bomb-maker" behind the Hyde Park blast, which also killed seven horses.

He said the Crown's case against Mr McNamee, involving a "thoroughly misleading cameo of connections" was "deeply flawed from the beginning".

Mr McNamee after the case that although he had already been freed from prison under the terms of the Good Friday peace deal it had been important to him to clear his name.

Danny McNamee: We had to take on the whole British criminal justice system
"It is acknowledgement that I spent 12½ years in prison for something I did not do," he said.

He confirmed that he would be seeking compensation but said the principle was more important than any money he might receive.

"It was important to show what had been done. The prosecution had presented a completely false case against me knowing it was false," he said.

He was asked how he felt about the 1982 Hyde Park bombing when he had learned of it.

He said: "I thought the same as everybody. It was a terrible atrocity and a sad loss for the families."

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