Hyde Park widow: ‘I feel so guilty since IRA killed my husband’

Judith Jenkins
Judith Jenkins

The only standing ovation of the conference was reserved for an emotional Judith Jenkins – who told delegates how she felt so guilty about how the IRA murder of her guardsman husband in Hyde Park had impacted her family.

Cpl Jeffrey Young was one of four Household Guards killed by the IRA bomb in London in 1982.

Mrs Jenkins told the South East Fermanagh Foundation annual conference in Enniskillen on Saturday that the bombing turned her life “upside down”.

“My own world just collapsed,” she said. “My two children grew up without knowing their father.”

Her elder daughter Sarah Jane, aged only four, witnessed an Army officer with a nail through his hand.

As she grew up, Judith considered her daughter “naughty or spoiled”.

It was only at age 26 she was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“I feel like a very bad mother because I did not speak about him to my daughters,” she said of her husband.

She wanted to spare them the painful memories.

Judith was left devastated when the prosecution of John Downey in 2014 for the bombing was stopped after it was revealed he had an on-the-run comfort letter from government. Tony Blair later met her “behind closed doors” and apologised, as he had been behind the scheme.

Rt Rev Alan Harper, former Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh, told the conference that, drawing on his experience as an archaeologist, investigators looking at the past “can always find evidence if they want to”.

His father had been deeply hurt not to inherit even a memento from his own father. Motivated by this wound, his father later made his sister and him two beautifully handcrafted clocks, which were now treasured family heirlooms. Similarly, victims can also reclaim the past, he said.

Also read: Historians ‘vital to counter republican rewriting of past’