Belfast Telegraph

Ex-soldier faces trial for 1988 checkpoint killing of Aiden McAnespie

Mourners carry the coffin of Aiden McAnespie who was shot dead at an Army checkpoint in 1988
Mourners carry the coffin of Aiden McAnespie who was shot dead at an Army checkpoint in 1988
Aiden McAnespie

By Staff Reporter

A judge has ruled there is sufficient evidence for a former Grenadier Guardsman to stand trial for the manslaughter of a man at a border checkpoint almost 32 years ago.

David Jonathon Holden (50), whose address was given as care of his lawyer's Belfast offices, appeared in the dock of Dungannon Magistrates Court yesterday charged with unlawfully killing Aiden McAnespie on February 21, 1988.

Mr McAnespie was on his way to a gaelic football match and was shot dead as he walked through an Army checkpoint in Aughnacloy, having been struck by one of three bullets fired from a machine gun.

Former soldier Mr Holden was 18 at the time of the incident. He now resides in England.

Seated behind the dock were many family and friends of the deceased, as well as supporters and members of various groups including Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre.

The case was heard as a Preliminary Investigation (PI) split over the course of two days, the first in August and the second in November, during which the evidence of several prosecution witnesses was challenged.

Concluding, Judge Brady said: "I will take time to consider all evidence and submissions in this matter to establish if there is a case to answer. I will give a written ruling in due course."

That took place yesterday, although the content of the judgment nor what was disclosed during the PI, cannot be reported at this time.

Only Judge Brady's final decision, that Holden will stand trial, can be published.

Having ruled there is a case to answer, the committal hearing went ahead.

Holden declined to call witnesses or give evidence on his own behalf at this stage in proceedings.

He was remanded on £500 bail to appear for arraignment at Laganside Crown Court, Belfast on February 14.

Welcomed the development, Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew said: "This is a step forward for the family in the campaign for the truth of what happened to Aidan."

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