June 1996 – 20 years ago

26 June 1996 – Murder of Veronica Guerin

Veronica Guerin - June 1996Veronica Guerin was an Irish crime reporter. When she began to cover drug dealers, and gained information from convicted drugs criminal John Traynor, she received numerous death threats. The first violence against her occurred in October 1994, when two shots were fired into her home after her story on murdered crime kingpin Martin Cahill was published.

The day after writing an article on Gerry “The Monk” Hutch, on 30 January 1995, she answered her doorbell to a man pointing a revolver at her head. The gunman missed and shot her in the leg. Regardless, she vowed to continue her investigations. Independent Newspapers installed a security system to protect her, and the police gave her a 24-hour escort; however, she did not approve of this, saying that it hampered her work.

On 13 September 1995, convicted criminal John Gilligan, Traynor’s boss, attacked her when she confronted him about his lavish lifestyle with no source of income. He later called her at home and threatened to kidnap and rape her son, and kill her if she wrote anything about him.

Then on 26 June 1996, while driving, Guerin stopped at a red traffic light on the outskirts of Dublin, unaware she was being followed. She was shot six times, fatally, by one of two men sitting on a motorcycle.

Guerin received the International Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists in December 1995. There is a street in Albany, Western Australia named after her.

12 June 1996 – Blackhawk accident

Blackhawk - June 1996Two army Blackhawk helicopters that were participating in night-time antiterrorist manoeuvres and flying with their anti-collision lights turned off crashed after their rotors touched while they were landing in a training range; 18 persons were killed, and 10 were injured, 3 seriously.

One Blackhawk crashed immediately killing 12 personnel on board, while the other was able to make a crash landing but burst into flames, killing six. Crash survivors, soldiers from the other helicopters and exercise staff risked the flames and exploding ammunition to rescue their comrades and retrieve the bodies of the dead.  Fifteen members of the SASR and three from the 5th Aviation Regiment lost their lives in the accident.

The accident occurred near Townsville, Queensland.


15 June 1996 – Manchester IRA bombing

The 1996 Manchester bombing was an attack carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on Saturday 15 June 1996 in Manchester, England. The 3,300-pound (1,500 kg) bomb, placed in a van on Corporation Street in Manchester city centre, targeted the city’s infrastructure and economy and caused widespread damage, estimated by insurers at £700 million (£1.2 billion as of 2016). The IRA had sent telephoned warnings about 90 minutes before the bomb detonated. The area was evacuated, but the bomb squad were unable to defuse the bomb in time. Two hundred and twelve people were injured, but there were no fatalities.

23 June 1996 – Nintendo 64 goes on sale in Japan

Nintendo 64 - June 1996At launch, the Los Angeles Times called the system “quite simply, the fastest, most graceful game machine on the market”. Its form factor was described as small, light, and “built for heavy play by kids” unlike the “relatively fragile Sega Saturn”. Showing concern for a major console product launch during a sharp, several-year long, decline in the game console market, the review said that the long-delayed Nintendo 64 was “worth the wait” in the company’s pursuit of quality. Nintendo’s “penchant for perfection” in game quality control was praised, though with concerns about having only two launch titles at retail and twelve expected by Christmas. Describing the quality control incentives associated with cartridge-based development, the Times cited Nintendo’s position that cartridge game developers tend to “place a premium on substance over flash”, and noted that the launch titles lack the “poorly acted live-action sequences or half-baked musical overtures” which it says tend to be found on CD-ROM games. Praising Nintendo’s controversial choice of the cartridge medium with its “nonexistent” load times and “continuous, fast-paced action CD-ROMs simply cannot deliver”, the review concluded that “the cartridge-based Nintendo 64 delivers blistering speed and tack-sharp graphics that are unheard of on personal computers and make competing 32-bit, disc-based consoles from Sega and Sony seem downright sluggish”.

Time Magazine named it their 1996 Machine of the Year, saying the machine had “done to video-gaming what the 707 did to air travel.” The magazine said the console achieved “the most realistic and compelling three-dimensional experience ever presented by a computer.” Time credited the Nintendo 64 with revitalizing the video game market, “rescuing this industry from the dustbin of entertainment history.” The magazine suggested that the Nintendo 64 would play a major role in introducing children to digital technology in the final years of the 20th century. The article concluded by saying the console had already provided “the first glimpse of a future where immensely powerful computing will be as common and easy to use as our televisions.”

Euro 96 - June 1996June 1996 – Euro 1996

Euro 2016 kicks off in a few days. The tournament will be contested by 24 four teams expanded from 16 in the last competition.

20 years ago, the European Championship was expanded from an 8 team format to one of 16. The tournament was staged in eight cities in England. The final was won by Germany who beat the Czech Republic 2-1 with a golden goal in extra time. This was their first major title won since the reunification in 1990.

12 June 1996 – Sao Paulo shopping mall blast

A prolonged natural gas leak apparently caused a powerful blast that tore through a packed Brazilian shopping mall, killing at least 39 people and injuring more than 470. At the time of the blast, as many as 2,000 shoppers were believed to be in the centre, which had 200 stores and three movie theatres. The Plaza Shopping Center in the suburb of Osasco, about 10 miles west of Sao Paulo, was built barely a year before.

June 1996 – Music, movies, TV and books

Runaway Jury - June 1996The Fugees’, Killing Me Softly, a remake of the old Roberta Flack classic was the song at number one in most parts of the World. It featured the amazing vocals of Lauren Hill and won the Grammy for the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group.

Twister - June 1996At the movies Twister was the Box Office smash in June 1996. The disaster film starred Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. Also huge in June was Mission Impossible and Sean Connery’s The Rock.

In June 1996 Australian television saw Liz Hayes leaving the Today Show after eleven years and joining the 60 Minutes team. It also saw the introduction of the Disney and Comedy channels.

The bestseller for June 1996 was John Grisham’s Runaway Jury. It was Grisham’s seventh novel. It was published again in 2003 to coincide with the movie adaptation staring Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, John Cusack and Rachel Weisz.



Did you know if you were to stretch your blood vessels out end to end in a straight line, you would die?”