Brighton bomber among four facing release delay

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The Independent Online
THE FOUR prisoners whose sentences are in question are all serving life terms. Judges recommended that two of them, Thomas Quigley and the Brighton bomber Patrick Magee, should each serve at least 35 years in prison.

In 1986 Magee, then aged 35, was given eight life sentences for his part in the Brighton hotel bombing. He was found guilty of planting the time- delay device that exploded at the Grand Hotel during the 1984 Conservative conference, killing five people.

The judge told him: "You intended to wipe out a large part of the government and very nearly did. I am satisfied that you enjoy terrorism."

Magee is regarded as a particular hero in republican circles in that he came close to killing Margaret Thatcher, prime minister at the time, who was at the top of the IRA's assassination list.

Gerard McDonnell, then 35, was sentenced to life imprisonment after being tried with Magee. He was convicted of conspiring to cause a series of explosions at seaside resorts. When arrested in Glasgow he had a loaded automatic pistol in the waistband of his trousers.

Thomas Quigley received three life sentences in 1985 for the murders of two civilians and a bomb disposal expert during an IRA bombing campaign in London in the early 1980s. Those who died were Nora Field, 59, and John Breslin, 18, who were caught in a bomb blast at Chelsea barracks, and Kenneth Howorth, who was attempting to defuse an IRA device in Oxford Street. Sentencing Quigley, who came from Belfast and was then aged 27, the judge said: "You showed not a shred of compassion for innocent passers- by."

The fourth prisoner is alleged to have links with the Irish National Liberation Army. Patrick McLaughlin, then 34 and from Londonderry, was given a life sentence in 1986 after being convicted of conspiring to plant an INLA bomb outside Chelsea barracks on Armistice Day, 1986.

In recent years a campaign protesting his innocence has gathered momentum. The INLA said he was not involved in the bombing attempt and Irish newspapers have called for a review of the conviction.