Docklands bomb devastation described

 

Two shopkeepers were killed instantly when a one tonne IRA bomb exploded outside their store, a court heard yesterday. The London Docklands blast was so powerful that it blew John Jeffries and Inam Bashir through two walls, Woolwich Crown Court heard. The IRA also used the same codeword for the Docklands bombing as it did for the bomb hoax at the Grand National in 1997, the court heard.

Mr James McCardle (30) is being tried for causing the explosion in South Quay, east London on Friday, February 9th, 1996. Mr McCardle, of Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, denies two counts of murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. Mr McCardle is being retried after a jury failed to reach a verdict at the end of his first trial which finished on February 20th. Mr John Bevan QC, prosecuting, said it was a miracle that so many survived the attack after vague warnings were given. "There were six warnings, mostly using recognised IRA code words. Although the warnings referred to the South Quay area, near Docklands Light Railway station, at least one of the recipients misheard that the bomb was opposite South Quay," he said.

The person told police it was at the station and officers wasted precious minutes searching the area.

"In addition, the warnings failed to mention the bomb was in a lorry. They do not give warnings for bombs to be disarmed," he added.

However, police found the lorry and an officer noted its licence plate just before the bomb detonated. The blast left a crater 32 ft across and 10 ft deep. The bomb was made from a mixture of garden fertiliser and icing sugar. It could be primed by the driver of the flatbed truck pressing a switch inside the cab which would be connected to a two-hour fuse. After the explosion, an artist's impression of the truck was shown on television. It was seen by a man who had spotted the vehicle parked on an industrial estate in Barking.

"Police attended and very important discoveries were made," said Mr Bevan. Forensic officers discovered a tachograph which showed the lorry had travelled from Dundalk to Belfast, from Stranraer to Carlisle, and, on the day of the blast, from South Mimms to the Dartford Tunnel.

"The whereabouts of the truck before the bombing provides the evidence against Mr McCardle in this case." The hearing continues.