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1974: M62 bomber jailed for life

A woman bomber who killed 12 people aboard an army coach last February has been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Judith Ward, 25, received a life term for each of those who died when the coach exploded on the M62 motorway.

The sentences are to run concurrently with three other sentences of up to 20 years for causing explosions.

Ward, from Stockport in Cheshire, remained impassive as Mr Justice Waller passed sentence.

During the trial the court heard Ward had joined the army - from which she later deserted - on the instructions of the republican group, the IRA.

Her detailed knowledge of bases helped facilitate the coach bombing, prosecution barrister John Cobb QC alleged.

She also gave information to the IRA which led to two attacks on army targets in which six people died, Mr Cobb added.

Ward initially confessed her crimes in a statement to police which she later retracted.

She denied being a member of the IRA but photographs of her in the outlawed organisation's uniform were shown to the jury at Wakefield Crown Court.

It also emerged in court that she was arrested after the bombing of Euston station last September but later released.

Questions are now being raised as to why the police let Ward go even though traces of explosives were found on her hands.

As she was led from the courtroom to the cells, the only member of her family present, sister-in-law Jean Ward, sobbed.

Ward's father, Thomas, had said earlier he did not believe his daughter was capable of such "brutal and callous acts".

Her brother, Tommy, said none of the family thought Judith had ever been in the IRA.

"We don't think she was so heavily involved. There has been a lot of romancing," he said.

That was a point echoed in court by Ward's solicitor, Andrew Rankin QC, who highlighted many improbabilities in her confessions.

They included having been married to an IRA man and having borne a child by another. Judith Ward's conviction was overturned 18 years later. See "In Context" below.

In Context
Judith Ward spent 18 years in jail before her conviction was quashed in 1992.

Her lawyers argued the trial jury should have been told of her history of mental illness.

Three Appeal Court judges concluded Ms Ward's conviction had been "secured by ambush".

They said government forensic scientists had withheld information that could have changed the course of Ms Ward's trial.

Her case was one of a spate of miscarriage of justices revealed in the early 1990s.

Others released around the same time included the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four.

After her release Judith Ward wrote an autobiography, Ambushed, published in 1992.

She subsequently started a course in criminology and became a campaigner for prisoners' rights.


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