Pub blast inquests set to resume.
Byline: RYAN HOOPER firstname.lastname@example.org
THE inquests into the 1974 Guildford pub bombings are to resume more than 40 years since they were suspended, after a coroner ruled that the public were "entitled" to have the incident explored "untainted".
Surrey Coroner Richard Travers said he felt the core issues of how, when and where the four young soldiers and one civilian died had not been sufficiently established in public proceedings, following a campaign from the families of victims, survivors, and those wrongfully imprisoned to complete the hearings.
Soldiers Caroline Slater, 18, William Forsyth, 18, John Hunter, 17, and Ann Hamilton, 19, and civilian Paul Craig, 22, died in the blast - carried out by the IRA at the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles - at the Horse and Groom pub, which was popular with soldiers, in the town on October 5, 1974.
Original inquest proceedings were opened and suspended after the Guildford Four - Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill, Paddy Armstrong and Carole Richardson - were convicted over the bombings in 1975.
They were handed life sentences but had their convictions overturned in 1989 - the case becoming one of the best-known miscarriages of justice in British legal history.
Reading out his ruling during a 25-minute hearing at Woking Coroner's Court, Mr Travers said: "It is not in doubt that the deceased were unlawfully killed by a team of Provisional IRA terrorists, probably comprised of eight people in two cars.
"What the resumed inquests can and will investigate are issues such as the time of the blast, the respective locations of the bomb and its victims, who was with the victims at the time of the blast, whether each of the deceased died immediately and, if not, how long they survived for, whether they said anything to anybody prior to their deaths and the response of first-aiders and emergency services."