Tag Archives: ‘Guildford Four’

Maguire Seven – 1976: Guilty verdict for ‘Maguire Seven

1976: Guilty verdict for ‘Maguire Seven’

A 40-year-old Irish born mother has been jailed for 14 years for possessing explosives at her London home.

Five other members of her family and a close friend were also found guilty of the same offence and jailed.

Anne Maguire, from Willesden, North London, was convicted of possessing nitro-glycerine, which was then passed on for use by IRA terrorists to make bombs.

Throughout the six-week trial at the Old Bailey all seven have continually protested their innocence.

‘No greater offence’

As Mrs Maguire was carried kicking and screaming from the dock she shouted: “I’m innocent you bastards. No, no, no.”

Her husband, Patrick Maguire, 42 was also sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Her two younger sons, Vincent, 17, and Patrick, 14, were given five and four years respectively.

Mrs Maguire’s brother, William Smyth, 37, brother-in-law Patrick “Giuseppe” Conlon, 52, and family friend Patrick O’Neill, 35, were each sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.

Passing sentence, Judge Justice Donaldson said: “There can be no greater offence than this, for it strikes at the very root of the way of life for which generations have fought and, indeed, died to preserve.”

Chief Constable Peter Matthews, of Surrey police, who led the investigation, said:

“We are delighted with the verdicts. These are the people we were after.

“We have cut off a major supply pipeline to the terrorist.

“We are only sorry we did not find the bombs.”

Police were first led to the Maguire family in Willesden when they followed Giuseppe Conlon to their home in December 1974.

Mr Conlon had arrived in London from Ireland for talks with solicitors who were defending his son Gerry, under arrest on suspicion of carrying out the Guildford pub bombings.

Anne Maguire, too, was implicated in the Guildford bombings and was also arrested in December 1974 and charged with the murder of 18-year-old WRAC recruit Caroline Slater, who died in the attacks.

The murder charge was dismissed by Guildford magistrates’ court the following February but the police had become suspicious of the Maguire family.

Image result for nitroglycerin

In a raid on their home in Willesden, evidence of nitro-glycerine was found. Swabs were taken from the hands of several male members of the family and evidence of the substance was detected.

Mrs Maguire has always denied the offence. During her trial she said: “There were never any explosives in my house. I would never have any explosives there. I am the mother of four children.”

See BBC on this day for more details.  4th March 1976

The Guildford Four

— Disclaimer –

The views and opinions expressed in this post/documentaries  are soley intended to educate and provide background information to those interested in the Troubles of Northern Ireland. They in no way reflect my own opinions and I take no responsibility for any inaccuracies or factual errors.

The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven were the collective names of two groups whose convictions in English courts in 1975 and 1976 for the Guildford pub bombings of 5 October 1974 were eventually quashed after long campaigns for justice.

The Guildford Four were wrongly convicted of bombings carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), and the Maguire Seven were wrongly convicted of handling explosives found during the investigation into the bombings.

Both groups’ convictions were eventually declared “unsafe and unsatisfactory” and reversed in 1989 and 1991 respectively after they had served up to 15–16 years in prison. Along with the Maguires and the Guildford Four, a number of other people faced charges against them relating to the bombings, six of them charged with murder, but these charges were dropped. 

No one else was charged with the bombings, or supplying the material; three police officers were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, and found not guilty.

Maguire Seven

The Maguire Seven were charged with possessing nitroglycerine allegedly passed to the IRA to make bombs after the police raided the West Kilburn house of Anne Maguire on 3 December 1974.

They were tried and convicted on 4 March 1976 and received the following sentences.

Defendant Relationship Age at
time of trial
Anne Maguire 40 14 years
Patrick Maguire Anne’s husband 42 14 years
Patrick Maguire Son of Anne and Patrick 14 4 years
Vincent Maguire Son of Anne and Patrick 17 5 years
Sean Smyth Brother of Anne Maguire 37 12 years
Patrick O’Neill Family friend 35 12 years
Patrick “Giuseppe” Conlon Brother-in-law of Anne 52 12 years

Giuseppe Conlon had travelled from Belfast to help his son, Gerry Conlon, in the Guildford Four trial. Conlon, who had troubles with his lungs for many years, died in prison in January 1980, while the other six served their sentences and were released.


The Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven sought leave to appeal their convictions immediately and were refused. Despite this, a growing body of disparate groups pressed for a re-examination of the case.

In February 1977, during the trial of the Balcombe Street ASU, the four IRA men instructed their lawyers to “draw attention to the fact that four totally innocent people were serving massive sentences”, referring to the Guildford Four.

Despite claims to the police that they were responsible they were never charged with these offences and the Guildford Four remained in prison for another twelve years.

The Guildford Four tried to obtain from the Home Secretary a reference to the Court of Appeal under Section 17 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968 (later repealed), but were unsuccessful. In 1987, the Home Office issued a memorandum recognising that it was unlikely they were terrorists, but that this would not be sufficient evidence for appeal.

See: Balcombe Street Siege


Following the failure of the 1977 court appeal a number of ‘lone voices’ publicly questioned the conviction. Among them David Martin in The LevellerGavin Esler and Chris Mullinin the New Statesman and David McKittrick in the Belfast Telegraph.

On 26th February 1980, BBC One Northern Ireland aired ‘’Spotlight: Giuseppe Conlon and the Bomb Factory’’ which contained an interview by Patrick Maguire and the BBC’s Gavin Elser

Quashing of the Maguire verdicts

On 12 July 1990, the Home Secretary David Waddington published the Interim Report on the Maguire Case: The Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the convictions arising out of the bomb attacks in Guildford and Woolwich in 1974,which criticised the trial judge Mr Justice Donaldson and unearthed improprieties in the handling of scientific evidence and declared the convictions unsound recommending referral back to the Court of Appeal.

The report “strongly criticise[d] the decision by the prosecution at the Guildford trial not to disclose to the defence a statement supporting Mr Conlon’s alibi.”

The convictions of the Maguire Seven were quashed in 1991.


Neither the bombings nor the wrongful imprisonment resulted in convictions. The bombings were most likely the work of the Balcombe Street Siege gang, who claimed responsibility. They were already serving life sentences, but were released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Three British police officers—Thomas Style, John Donaldson, and Vernon Attwell—were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, but each was found not guilty.

On 9 February 2005, Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, issued an apology to the families of the 11 people imprisoned for the bombings in Guildford and Woolwich, and those related to them who were still alive. He said, in part,:

“I am very sorry that they were subject to such an ordeal and injustice… they deserve to be completely and publicly exonerated.”

In 1993, Paul Hill married Courtney Kennedy, a daughter of assassinated American senator Robert F. Kennedy and a niece of assassinated president John F. Kennedy. They had a daughter in 1999, but legally separated in 2006.

Hill had a televised meeting with the brother of murdered soldier Brian Shaw, who continued to accuse him.

 He traveled to Colombia to attend the trial of the Colombia Three.

Gerry Conlon’s autobiography Proved Innocent was adapted into the Oscar and Bafta award-nominated 1993 drama In the Name of the Father, starring Daniel Day-LewisEmma Thompson, and Pete Postlethwaite. The film depicts Conlon’s attempt to rebuild his shattered relationship with his father, but is partly fictional – for example, Conlon never shared a cell with his father. He is reported to have settled with the government for a final payment of compensation in the region of £500,000.

His mother Sarah Conlon, who had spent 16 years campaigning to have the names of her husband and son cleared and helped secure the apology, died on 20 July 2008. Conlon has given support to Tommy Sheridan in relation to the charges brought against him. Conlon had been working to have the conviction of the Craigavon Two overturned prior to his death in June 2014.

Paddy Armstrong had problems with drinking and gambling. He eventually married and moved to Dublin.

Carole Richardson married and had a daughter soon after her release. She has since kept out of the public eye. Although it wasn’t reported at the time of Conlon’s death there are two reputable citations that record that Carole Richardson died in 2012.

The autobiography of the youngest member of the Maguire Seven, Patrick Maguire, My Father’s Watch: The Story of a Child Prisoner in 70s Britain was released in May 2008. It tells his story before, during, and after his imprisonment, and details its impact on his life and those of his family.

Gerry Conlon later joined a campaign to free the “Craigavon Two” – Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton – convicted of the murder of a police officer in Northern Ireland. Conlon died at home in Belfast on 21 June 2014. His family issued a statement:  “He brought life, love, intelligence, wit and strength to our family through its darkest hours. He helped us to survive what we were not meant to survive.

We recognise that what he achieved by fighting for justice for us had a far, far greater importance – it forced the world’s closed eyes to be opened to injustice; it forced unimaginable wickedness to be acknowledged; we believe it changed the course of history”.

In terms of a legal aftermath, Sir John Donaldson went on to an illustrious judicial career and became Master of the Rolls, Head of the Appeal Court. The appeal case itself for R v Maguire 1981, is now the leading case for disclosure to the defence.

See : Guildford Pub Bombings – Not Forgotten



16th January – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

16th January


Wednesday 16 January 1974

Brian Faulkner, then Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Executive, travelled to Dublin for a meeting with Liam Cosgrave, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) following a ruling in the Dublin High Court. The ruling implied that the reunification of Ireland did not require the consent of the majority of people in Northern Ireland.

Sunningdale; Ulster Workers’ Council Strike.

Thursday 16 January 1975

The Irish Republican Army (IRA) announced that it would call off its ceasefire as of midnight 16 January 1975

Monday 16 January 1978

Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, was quoted in the Irish Press as saying: “I believe the British should withdraw from Ireland. I think that it is the only thing that will get things moving.” The comments drew a lot of criticism including from Ian Paisley, then leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who called Ó Fiaich “the IRA’s bishop from Crossmaglen”.

Friday 16 January 1981

Bernadette McAliskey

Bernadette McAliskey (formally Devlin) and her husband were shot and seriously injured in a gun attack in their home near Coalisland, County Tyrone. It was believed that members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) were responsible for the attack. Bernadette McAliskey was shot seven times in front of her children, but both her and her husband recovered from their injuries.

Injured in loyalist shooting

On 16 January 1981, she and her husband were shot by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters, who broke into their home near Coalisland, County Tyrone. The gunmen shot Devlin fourteen times in front of her children. British soldiers were watching the McAliskey home at the time, but failed to prevent the assassination attempt.An army patrol of the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, entered the house and waited for half an hour. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey claimed they were waiting for the couple to die. Another group of soldiers then arrived. The paramilitaries had torn out the telephone and while the wounded couple were being given first aid by the newly arrived troops, a soldier ran to a neighbour’s house, commandeered a car, and drove to the home of a councillor to telephone for help. The couple were taken by helicopter to hospital in nearby Dungannon for emergency treatment and then to the Musgrave Park Hospital, Military Wing, in Belfast, under intensive care. The attackers, Ray Smallwoods, Tom Graham (38), both from Lisburn, and Andrew Watson (25) from Seymour Hill, Dunmurry, were captured by the army patrol and subsequently jailed. All three were members of the South Belfast UDA. Smallwoods was the driver of the getaway car.

Sunday 16 January 1983

William Doyle, a County Court judge, was shot dead by members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as he left mass at a Catholic church in south Belfast.

Thursday 16 January 1986

Security forces in Holland raided a flat in Amsterdam and arrested two Republicans, Brendan McFarlane and Gerard Kelly, who had escaped from the Maze prison on 25 September 1983.

[The two men were extradited to the United Kingdom (UK) on 3 December 1986.]

Friday 16 January 1987

Peter Robinson, then deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), pleaded guilty in a Dublin court to unlawful assembly. Robinson paid £17,500 in fines and compensation and was freed.

Saturday 16 January 1988

Two members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were killed in separate incidents.

Monday 16 January 1989

The case of the ‘Guildford Four’ was referred to the Court of Appeal.

Tuesday 16 January 1990

John Taylor, then Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament, called for an end to the Unionist boycott of talks with Northern Ireland Office ministers.

Tommy Lyttle, then leader of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), appeared in court on charges relating to the Stevens Inquiry

Tuesday 16 February 1993

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), gave an interview to the Irish News (a Northern Ireland newspaper) in which he called for “inclusive dialogue” and a new Irish-British agreement that would bring an end to partition.

Sunday 16 January 1994

The Sunday Independent (an Dublin based newspaper) contained a story about an alleged plan of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) to carry out ‘ethnic cleansing’. The plan involved the repartition of Northern Ireland followed by the forced removal of Catholics from the remaining area.

Monday 16 January 1995

SF Meeting With NIO Officials A delegation from Sinn Féin (SF) held a meeting with Northern Ireland Office (NIO) officials at Stormont. SF accepted that the party had an “influence” on paramilitary weapons.

Michael Ancram, then Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), later said that the decommissioning of Irish Republican Army (IRA) weapons was not a precondition to SF’s entry into substantive talks.

Thursday 16 January 1997

The case of Lee Clegg was referred to the Court of Appeal by Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

[Clegg had been released from prison in 1995 having served two years of a life sentence for the murder of Karen Reilly (16) on 30 September 1990.]

The trial of six men who had escaped from Whitmoor Prison collapsed due to “prejudicial publicity” from the London Evening Standard. The trial was being heard in the High Court in London.

Saturday 16 January 1988

Two members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) were killed in separate incidents.

Saturday 16 January 1999

It was announced that a commission involving the Orange Order and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) would be established to consider formal links between the two organisations.

Tuesday 16 January 2001

There was a pipe-bomb attack on the home of a Catholic family in Coleraine, County Derry. A couple and their two children, aged seven and 13, were in the house at the Heights in Coleraine when the device exploded just after midnight. The attack was carried out by Loyalist paramilitaries.

British Army (BA) bomb disposal experts defused a pipe-bomb at the north Belfast home of the brother of Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). Loyalists paramilitaries were believed to be responsible for leaving the device in the front garden of the house on the Cavehill Road. No-one was in the house at the time.

Wednesday 16 January 2002

Postal deliveries throughout Northern Ireland were again suspended as the Communication Workers Union, together with other trade unions, continued efforts to have Ulster Defence Association (UDA) death threats lifted.

Alan McQuillan, then Assistant Chief Constable of PSNI, met leaders of the Communication Workers Union in Belfast and give them an “honest assessment” of the threat issued by the Red Hand Defenders (RHD). Following the meeting the Belfast postal workers said they would return to work beginning with the first shifts on Thursday 17 January 2002.

The body of Stephen McCullough (39) was found at the bottom of Cavehill in north Belfast. It appeared that he had fallen from the top of a cliff. Initially the police said a crime was not suspected.

[Later (on 21 January 2002) it was revealed that McCullough was a member of the UDA. It was also revealed that hours before his death McCullough had told Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) soldiers and some police officers that he had information about the killing of Daniel McColgan (12 January 2002). Nuala O’Loan, then Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI), began an investigation into the death of McCullough.]

Richard Haass, then a special advisor to the US President, travelled to Belfast for talks with John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and also met members of the Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB). Haass also met representatives of Unionist political parties. Haass urged Sinn Féin (SF) to join the Policing Board saying it was in the party’s own interests to serve alongside the other political parties.

[Haass met with other groups on 17 January 2002.]

The High Court in Belfast ruled that David Trimble (UUP), then First Minister, and Seamus Mallon (SDLP), former Deputy First Minister, were wrong to withhold Executive papers, relating to free public transport, from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

[The two DUP ministers had refused to serve on the Executive.]

Pat Cox (49), a Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from the Republic of Ireland, won the election to become the President of the European Parliament.



Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die

– Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live  forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

6 People   lost their lives on the 16th  January  between  1972 – 1988


16 January 1972

Eamon McCormick,  (17)

Status: Irish Republican Army Youth Section (IRAF),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Died over two months after being shot during gun battle, near St Peter’s School, Ballymurphy, Belfast.


16 January 1977
Seamus Harvey, (20)

Status: Irish Republican Army (IRA),

Killed by: British Army (BA)
Shot by undercover British Army (BA) members, from concealed observation post, Drummuckavall, near Crossmaglen, County Armagh.


16 January 1981

Ivan Toombs,  (42)

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot at his workplace, Customs Office, Warrenpoint, County Down


16 January 1983

William Doyle,   (55)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Judge. Shot outside St Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church, Derryvolgie Avenue, Malone, Belfast.


16 January 1988
Timothy Armstrong,   (29)

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Ulster Defence Association (UDA)
Off duty. Shot while walking along Park Road, Ballynafeigh, Belfast. Assumed to be a Catholic.


16 January 1988

William Stewart,  (23)

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Died one day after being shot while driving his car near to his home, Brackaville, Coalisland, County Tyrone.



22nd October – Deaths & Events in Northern Ireland Troubles

Key Events & Deaths on this day in Northern Ireland Troubles

 22nd October

Tuesday 22 October 1974

Members of Parliament (MPs) who were part of the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) elected James Molyneaux as their leader. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) carried out a bomb attack on the Brooks club, in St James’s Square in London. Although the bomb was thrown into an empty dining room, two members of the kitchen staff were severly injured in the blast.

Wednesday 22 October 1975

gilford four cropped

‘Guildford Four’ Patrick Armstrong, Gerard Conlon, Paul Hill, and Carole Richardson (who became known as the ‘Guildford Four’) were found guilty at the Old Bailey in London of causing explosions in London in October 1974. The four were sentenced to life imprisonment.

[Following an appeal the four were released on 19 October 1989. The court of appeal decided that the ‘confessions’ had been fabricated by the police.]

Thursday 22 October 1981

The European Court ruled against the British government on the grounds that it was discriminating against homosexuals by treating homosexuality as a crime in Northern Ireland.

Monday 22 October 1984

The European Commission on Human Rights decided that the use of plastic bullets by security forces in Northern Ireland was justified in riot situations.

Friday 22 October 1993

While addressing the House of Commons at Westminster, John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), said that he thought the Hume-Adams Initiative was the best chance of achieving peace that he had seen in 20 years. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) issued threats against the staff of five firms that were undertaking building work on behalf of the security forces.

Tuesday 22 October 1996

The Irish News (a Belfast based newspaper) published details of an opinion poll  One result showed that 94 per cent of all respondents, and 70 per cent of Sinn Féin (SF) supporters, wanted an immediate Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire.

Friday 22 October 1999

Some journalists were shown identity cards that were alleged to have been taken from two British soldiers who had been “arrested” by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Short Strand area of east Belfast. Republicans claimed that the soldiers had been involved with a group of Loyalists in throwing stones at Nationalist residents of Short Strand. It was said that the two soldiers had been questioned by the IRA before being released.

Two men were shot in the legs in a paramilitary ‘punishment’ shooting in Strabane, County Tyrone. The IRA were believed to have been responsible for the attack. Following their arrest on 20 October 1999, seven men were charged with firearms offences and in the case of three other men files were forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Republic of Ireland. Political talks that formed part of the Mitchell Review of the Agreement continued late at Stormont, Belfast.

Monday 22 October 2001

Adams Asks IRA to Decommission At around 1.00am (0100BST) rioting resumed in the Limestone Road and Halliday’s Road area of north Belfast. Petrol bombs and fireworks were thrown at the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). John Reid, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, gave a speech in Belfast in which he said that the British government would not be “grudging or ungenerous” in the event of decommissioning of weapons by paramilitary groups. Later in the day Reid met a number of political leaders to discuss the issue of decommissioning.

Gerry Adams, then President of Sinn Féin (SF), held separate meetings with John Reid and David Trimble, then leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Adams later made what he described as a significant speech at 5.00pm (1700BST). In his speech he said: “Martin McGuinness and I have also held discussions with the IRA and we have put to the IRA the view that if it could make a ground-breaking move on the arms issue that this could save the peace process from collapse and transform the situation.”

[The IRA responded on Tuesday 23 October 2001.]

The announcement was welcomed by Nationalists, the Irish government, the British Government, and the American administration. Those Unionists who had supported the Good Friday Agreement also welcomed the announcement. Adams also confirmed that one of the three men arrested in Columbia, South America, on 13 August 2001, was SF’s representative in Cuba. Adams said that Niall Connolly, who had lived in Cuba for a number of years, had been asked to represent SF in Cuba by a senior member of the party. However, Adams said that the “decision was taken without the knowledge or authorisation of the international department or any other party structure including the party chairperson or myself”.


Remembering all innocent victims of the Troubles

Today is the anniversary of the death of the following  people killed as a results of the conflict in Northern Ireland

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.”
Thomas Campbell

To the innocent on the list – Your memory will live  forever

– To  the Paramilitaries  –

There are many things worth living for, a few things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for.

  4  People lost their lives on the 22nd October  between 1972 – 1982


22 October 1972

John Bell,   (21)

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Shot at his farm, Derrydoon, near Newtownbutler, County Fermanagh.


22 October 1973
Ronald Fletcher,  (46)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Killed during bomb attack on Wilson’s Bar, Upper Newtownards Road, Ballyhackamore, Belfast.


22 October 1974
Dominic Donnelly, (48)

Status: Civilian (Civ),

Killed by: non-specific Loyalist group (LOY)
Killed by booby trap bomb hidden in radio, at Eastwood’s Bookmakers, Marquis Street, Belfast.


22 October 1982

Thomas Cochrane,   (54)

Status: Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR),

Killed by: Irish Republican Army (IRA)
Off duty. Abducted while travelling to work, Glennane, near Markethill, County Armagh. Found shot Lislea, near Camlough, County Armagh, on 29 October 1982.