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Soldier challenges nine McAnespie witnesses

Shot dead: Aidan McAnespie
Shot dead: Aidan McAnespie

By Craig Simpson

Lawyers acting for a former solider accused of killing a man at a border checkpoint more than 30 years ago are to challenge the evidence of nine Public Prosecution Service witnesses, as well as the investigating police officer.

David Jonathon Holden (49), whose address was given as his solicitor's office in Victoria Street, Belfast, stands charged with unlawfully killing Aidan McAnespie on February 21 1988.

The victim 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.

Defence counsel Iain Turkington had told Dungannon Magistrates Court last month a preliminary investigation (PI) was likely, and on return yesterday, confirmed this would be the position.

District Judge John Meehan laid out the requirements for a PI within the jurisdiction including a requirement for him to be informed of the witnesses whose evidence is to be challenged and the availability of a court venue.

A lawyer appearing for the Public Prosecution Service said: "As we are now armed with the information on contentious witnesses, we can work to identify a date and court venue for the PI. We are advised it is likely to last three to five days."

The case has been adjourned for an update on the progress of fixing the PI date.

Holden, a former Grenadier Guardsman, who was 18 at the time of the incident, resides in England and last month the court was told defence counsel were to travel to consult with him. He did not appear in court then or yesterday, having been excused.

Some of Mr McAnespie's friends and family were present in court.

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