Belfast Telegraph

Video: Aidan McAnespie family welcome soldier's Troubles prosecution

The 23-year-old was killed at an Army checkpoint in Tyrone

The family of a man killed at an Army border checkpoint in 1988 have welcomed a decision to prosecute a soldier for manslaughter by gross negligence.

Catholic man Mr McAnespie was killed in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, in February 1988. The 23-year-old had been on his way to a local Gaelic Athletic Association club when he was shot. He was hit by one of three bullets fired from a machine gun.

A soldier was charged was manslaughter but the case was dropped in 1990. The Public Prosecution ordered a review of the case after an investigation by the HET.

Mr McAnespie's brother Vincent welcomed the decision by the Public Prosecution Service on Tuesday and said the family had faced a "brick wall" in their 30-year campaign.

"It's truth and justice we want to get," he said.

"He was just an ordinary local lad from the community that just wanted to go about his ordinary everyday life."

Cousin Brian Gormley said relatives were relieved the circumstances of the case were going to be examined in a court of law.

"The opportunity of actually getting to the truth of what happened in this case is still very much alive and we as a family are committed to pursuing that until we get to the very bottom of what happened that day," he said.

"This is one further step."

Mr McAnespie’s death were the subject of an Historical Enquiries Team (HET) review which reported in 2008. The UK Government expressed "deep regret" about the killing in 2009.

Aidan McAnespie's father John, brother Vincent sister Margo and cousin John Gormely, Solicitor Darragh Mackin: Members of the McAnespie family in Belfast following a meeting with the PPS. Pic: Pacemaker
Aidan McAnespie's father John, brother Vincent sister Margo and cousin John Gormely, Solicitor Darragh Mackin: Members of the McAnespie family in Belfast following a meeting with the PPS. Pic: Pacemaker
Scene at Aughnacloy border where Aidan McAnespie was shot.
Aidan McAnespie was shot dead as he walked through an Army checkpoint in Northern Ireland in 1988 (PA)
The funeral of Aidan McAnespie passes through the checkpoint where he was shot in 1988

Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin had asked the PPS to re-examine the circumstances of the case following a request by the family for a fresh inquest.

The Public Prosecution Service announced in 2016 it would review a decision not to prosecute the soldier.

The process, it said, considered all of the available evidence including a fresh ballistics report and it has been concluded there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the suspect in connection with the shooting of Mr McAnespie.

A PPS spokeswoman said: “Following careful consideration of all the evidence currently available in this case, and having received advice from Senior Counsel, it has been decided to prosecute a former soldier for the offence of gross negligence manslaughter.

“That evidence includes further expert evidence in relation to the circumstances in which the general purpose machine gun was discharged, thereby resulting in the ricochet shot which killed Mr McAnespie.

“The decision to prosecute was reached after the Test for Prosecution was applied to the available evidence in this case in accordance with the Code for Prosecutors.”

It is understood the ex-soldier was informed of the prosecution decision by email on Tuesday morning. Formal papers will be served on his legal representatives in the coming weeks.

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