IRA member says wrong man jailed for bombing: Man admits link to lorry of explosives

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The Independent Online
AN ENGLISHMAN being tried for his alleged part in a terrorist campaign in London told a court at the Old Bailey yesterday that he was an IRA member, and had been involved in another bombing for which he had not been charged, and for which the wrong man had been sentenced.

Patrick Hayes, 41, claimed he had been driving a Volvo lorry containing 3.2 tonnes of explosives in north London on the morning of the Lord Mayor's Show on 14 November 1992.

'I was accompanied by another man who has not been apprehended,' he said. 'Patrick Kelly was convicted of driving that lorry bomb and sentenced to 25 years. He had no connection at all with that bomb or any other bomb but was convicted on the basis of his nationality,' Hayes said. 'He is Irish-born and speaks with an Irish accent.'

Hayes made the claims during a speech made from the dock in the closing stages of his and another man's trial for offences connected to five bombs planted between November 1992 and March 1993.

Hayes, 41, of Stoke Newington, north London, is accused of conspiracy to cause explosions at Canary Wharf, Tottenham Court Road and at Woodside Park Tube station car park.

Together with Jan Taylor, 51, of Stepney, east London, who is also English, he is also accused of conspiracy to cause explosions, of causing an explosion at Harrods and another on a Victoria to Ramsgate commuter train, and with possessing Semtex and ammonium nitrate explosives.

They also face charges of possessing two pistols and two assault rifles. The pair have entered not guilty pleas to all 11 charges, but in court at the start of the trial Hayes refused to plead to charges against him, saying they were political.

The court has heard from the prosecution how Hayes and Taylor were allegedly identified from videos at Harrods, and how explosives, detonators and timing devices and a mass of other items allegedly linking them to bombings were found at the flat where they were arrested, and at a lock-up garage Hayes rented.

Kelly was arrested after police had stopped a refrigerated lorry in Stoke Newington High Road. Minutes later one officer was shot by a man said in court to have been Kelly's colleague. Kelly was arrested 15 minutes later. He held a heavy goods vehicle licence and had worked in Britian on occasions over 20 years.

Hayes claimed from the dock yesterday there was an 'irrefutable' forensic and scientific link between the lorry bomb - 'found round the corner from my home' - and the Canary Wharf bomb.

Mr Justice Hidden told him what he was saying was not evidence 'and its relevance is not to assist your defence. What you are doing may be harming your defence'.

Hayes thanked the judge for pointing that out and told the jury: 'I was a volunteer in the IRA before my arrest. I am now a member and I will still be when I leave these premises. I have no criminal charges to answer to.'

Hayes was allowed to speak from the dock because he has decided to defend himself. He dispensed with his two counsel during the prosecution case, claiming they had not been allowed to ask questions he had wanted put on his behalf.

The case continues today.