British jury justifies man in Northern Ireland bomb case

A jury has acquitted a 37-year-old man of trying to blow up the car of a supporter of one of Northern Ireland 's Protestant paramilitary groups as part of a vicious internecine feud, court officials said Tuesday.

William Shaw, whose address was withheld for legal reasons, had denied charges of conspiring with others to cause an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury in the northern English town of Bolton on or before Dec. 17, 2003 .

After a five-week trial held in private at Leeds Crown Court in central England , a jury found Shaw not guilty on Monday. In line with a court ruling, the case could only be reported on Tuesday.

Leeds Crown Court heard that on Feb. 1, 2003 , John Gregg and Robert Carson senior members of the Protestant paramilitary group, the Ulster Defense Association, the UDA were shot to death in a taxi in Belfast .

The murders were believed to have been carried out by supporters of the UDA's deposed commander in west Belfast , Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair.

Three days later, a number of Adair supporters, including John "Fat Jackie" Thompson, left Northern Ireland for England , fearing retaliation. Thompson, a close associate of Adair, settled in Bolton .

On Dec. 17, 2003 , a device placed under Thompson's red Ford Escort partially exploded as Thompson was drove over a speed bump, causing some damage to the vehicle. Thompson was not injured.

Prosecutors told the court that the detonators failed to set off the device's main explosive charge. A DNA profile matching Shaw's was found on the bomb, they said.

Shaw's associate, Stanley Curry, a 48-year-old train driver from Birmingham , central England , was jailed for 20 years in June for planting the bomb, reports the AP.


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