John Downey granted bail to return to Donegal

A man charged with murdering two British soldiers in 1972 can return home to Co Donegal because of Covid-19, a High Court judge has ruled in Belfast.

John Downey is facing prosecution for a car bomb attack which killed UDR members Alfred Johnston and James Eames in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh.

The Irish News is reporting this evening that John Downey's bail terms were varied after defence lawyers argued it was not suitable for him to continue staying with a Sinn Féin representative in Belfast due to his underlying health problems.

Amid prosecution fears the move could increase the risk of flight, Mr Justice McAlinden said senior members of Sinn Fein would suffer significant embarrassment and reputational damage if the 68 year old were to abscond.

Mr Downey, who is from Creeslough, was granted bail in December to live at the Belfast home of a Sinn Féin councillor, with £225,000 in cash lodged as surety.

Downey, who has a respiratory condition and other health issues, applied to vary those terms due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Today's hearing took place via a telephone conference call to avoid lawyers having to attend court in person.