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1986: Magee convicted of Brighton bombing
A man has been found guilty of planting the Brighton bomb which killed five people and nearly wiped out most of Margaret Thatcher's cabinet two years ago.

Patrick Joseph Magee, 35, is in prison awaiting sentence after a jury at the Old Bailey convicted him on all charges relating to the explosion that ripped through the Grand Hotel during the 1984 Conservative Party conference.

As the unanimous guilty verdicts were read out, Magee sat in the dock looking straight ahead, showing no sign of emotion.

The prosecution said the 30 lb time bomb "came within an inch from being the IRA's most devastating explosion".

It had been planted behind a bath in a room on the sixth floor more than three weeks earlier, timed to go off on the final day of the conference.

At the Conservatives' request security at the Grand Hotel had been low key. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's first floor suite was one of only two rooms in the building that had been searched for bombs.

The blast, in the early hours of October 12, left a gaping hole in the hotel's fašade.

It sent a chimney crashing down through a column of rooms, killing five prominent Conservatives, including Sir Anthony Berry MP, and injuring 34.

Trade Secretary Norman Tebbit was among those who had to be rescued from under tons of masonry.

The prime minister had a narrow escape as the explosion destroyed the bathroom she had used just moments before. The bedroom in which she had been working on her conference speech was badly damaged.

Belfast-born Magee was charged with the bombing when forensic officers found his palm print on a hotel registration card in the aftermath of the blast. He had checked in under the fictitious name of Roy Walsh and given a false address.

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The Grand Hotel in Brighton
Most of the Grand Hotel was destroyed

In Context
Magee was given eight life sentences, seven of them relating to the Brighton bombing.

Recommending he serve a minimum of 35 years in prison, Mr Justice Boreham said: "You intended to wipe out a large part of the government and you nearly did."

In June 1999 Magee was freed as part of the Good Friday Agreement's early release scheme. He had served 14 years.

Following his release Magee was reported to have told the Dublin-based Sunday Business Post that he regretted the deaths and often thought of his victims.

Those who died were Sir Anthony Berry MP; Eric Taylor, north-west party chairman; and three wives of party officials, Roberta Wakeham; Muriel Maclean; and Jeanne Shattock.

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