William Quinn, an American born
in San Francisco, from Irish ancestry, was a member of the
terrorist organisation the IRA (Irish
Republican Army). He
and possibly four other men were sent to the UK to carry out
terrorist attacks. He had made previous trips to training
camps in Ireland.
26th February 1975, two
police officers on patrol duty spotted Quinn leaving a house
and became suspicious, Quinn fled,4 police officers then
engaged a chase. Passing by on a motorbike Stephen Tibble,
an off-duty policeman, who had only been n the Met police
for 6-months, stepped into assist, Quinn fired three shots
directly into Tibble's chest.
Quinn fled to Ireland where he
was arrested as a suspected IRA member. He served time in an
Back in the UK police searched
the house and found bomb making equipment, with Quinn's
fingerprints, as well as the gun that had killed Tibble.
A warrant was issued for Quinn,
who then, after release in Ireland. fled back to San
When the police intercepted the
bomb making factory they made several other arrests, the
gang became known as The Balcombe Street gang, who had held
a couple hostage, and may have been responsible for the bomb
that killed Guinness Book of records co-founder Ross
1981, Quinn arrested on
the British warrant by the FBI in San Francisco.
A long dawn out legal battle
successfully extradited from the USA to the UK. after a
5-year court battle that ended up in the American Supreme
11th February 1988, Quinn
pleaded not guilty to the murder of off duty police
constable Stephen Tibble. During the trial Quinn did not
speak at all.
16th February 1988, Quinn
sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommended 30 year
Judge Rose said "the
shooting was an appalling, cold-blooded killing untinged by
any remorse on your part, and motivated no doubt by the
terrorist activities on which at that time you were
1977 PC. Stephen Tibble was
posthumously awarded the Queens medal for gallantry, and a
memorial was erected on the spot he was shot in Charleville
Road in Barons Court, Lonmdon.
April 1999, As part of a
political arrangement with Sinn Fein, the political arm of
the IRA, known as the Good Friday Agreement, Quinn was freed
from the high-security Portaloise Prison.