British soldier whose judge said he lied about the murder of the innocent Aidan McAnespie in 1988 to be sentenced today

A former British soldier found guilty of killing a man at an army checkpoint in Northern Ireland more than 30 years ago will later face a hearing.

In November 1988, David Jonathan Holden, 53, was convicted of the February 1988 manslaughter of Aidan McAnespie.

He was the first veteran to be found guilty of a historic offense in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement.

Former Grenadier Guardsman Holden, who has been released on bail pending sentencing, is scheduled to return to Belfast Crown Court on Friday.

Regardless of how the sentence is passed, the veteran will only serve a maximum of two years in prison under the controversial provisions of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Accord.


Aidan McAnespie was shot dead near a checkpoint in Co Tyrone in 1988 (McAnespie family/PA)

Mr McAnespie, 23, was killed in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone just after passing through a border checkpoint.

He was on his way to a local GAA club when he was shot in the back.

Holden had admitted firing the shot that killed Mr McAnespie but had said he accidentally fired the gun because his hands were wet.

But trial judge Mr Justice O’Hara said he was “convinced beyond a doubt” that Holden was guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

He found that Holden had aimed a machine gun at McAnespie and pulled the trigger while assuming the gun was uncocked.

In delivering the verdict in the no-jury trial, the judge said, “That assumption should not have been made.”

He also said the former soldier “deliberately misrepresented” what happened.

The judge said: “The question for me is: How culpable is the defendant in the circumstances of this case?

“In my estimation he is punishable without any reasonable doubt.”

The verdict hearing comes amid ongoing controversy over government plans to come to terms with Northern Ireland’s troubled past.

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill proposals offer effective amnesty for those suspected of killings during the conflict if they agree to work with a new body to be known as the Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery ( Icrir) is known.

The law would also prohibit future civil trials and investigations related to troubles crimes. British soldier whose judge said he lied about the murder of the innocent Aidan McAnespie in 1988 to be sentenced today

Fry Electronics Team

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