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Bomb case link to Shrewsbury man's suicide

Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A Shrewsbury man who was on bail for conspiring to murder a police officer in Northern Ireland committed suicide, an inquest ruled.

Stuart Downes, 31, was found hanged in woodland at the rear of Meole Brace park and ride.

He had been on bail from the crown court in Northern Ireland in connection with an incident in north Belfast in May 2013 when two pipe bombs were thrown at a police car.

The police officers were left shaken but uninjured.

An earlier court hearing in Northern Ireland heard that Downes was alleged to have researched and acquired component parts, tested an explosive mixture and made an anonymous phone call to establish a code-word. Mr Downes had denied all charges against him.

An inquest, held at Shirehall yesterday, heard that he was reported missing after leaving his home in Ryton Close, Meole Brace, on June 18.

His family had assumed he was going to visit his girlfriend but he never returned home.

When a note was found the following day and Mr Downes had still not returned home, he was reported missing to police.

A high risk missing person search was launched and a body was found in woodland on June 24. It was confirmed to be Mr Downes via fingerprint identification. Toxicology reports revealed no drugs were in his system and there was only a small level of alcohol.

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The inquest was told that Mr Downes was last seen on Hereford Road at around 3pm. He was exchanging messages with a friend for nearly three hours before no more replies were sent from his phone.

Shropshire coroner John Ellery said the possible outcome of the criminal proceedings had been weighing heavily on Mr Downes' mind.

Recording a conclusion of suicide, Mr Ellery said: "It is clear that Stuart intended to take his own life."

"It is a material fact that he was on bail from the crown court in Northern Ireland in relation to several serious offences and he was likely to go on trial in October.

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"If found guilty it was likely he would have been given a lengthy custodial sentence to serve in Northern Ireland.

"It is clear from that note that the outcome weighed heavily on his mind.

"He died between June 18 and 24 in woodland at the rear of Meole Brace park and ride.

"By his actions and stated intent, I record a conclusion of suicide."

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