High Court Allows Civil Claim Against 1982 IRA Bomber

The High Court ruled yesterday that a lady (whose father was killed in a 1982 terrorist attack) is permitted to claim compensation from an IRA member – despite his criminal case collapsing 5 years ago.

The Judgment reads;

There can be no doubt that the intentional, unlawful killing of a person amounts to tortious conduct giving rise to a claim for damages.

Sarah-Jane Young, aged 4 at the time of the bombing, can recover compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 for her own psychiatric harm and consequential losses, as well as aggravated and exemplary damages on behalf of all of the victims.

Ms Young brought her claim after the criminal case collapsed – the Defendant John Downey had mistakenly been issued with a guarantee against prosecution and hence, no criminal charges could be brought.

Despite a Claimant ordinarily having only 3 years to bring a claim for compensation, the Judge agreed that the Claimant’s Date of Knowledge was the 2014 Court ruling (over the criminal matter), hence the 3 years was allowed to start at that time.

Fingerprint evidence was available to show that Downey had driven the Morris Marina used in the attack on the day of the bombing and had been convicted of IRA membership.

…as such, the Claimant has established that the Defendant is responsible as a joint tortfeasor for the unlawful killing of her father and she is therefore entitled to recover damages from him.