Aidan McAnespie’s family warn ‘no one is above the law’

The funeral procession of Aidan McAnespie in 1988
The funeral procession of Aidan McAnespie in 1988

Lawyers for the family of Aidan McAnespie, who was shot dead by a British soldier at a checkpoint in the town, plan to engage with prosecutors in the coming weeks after a major development in the case was announced.

The 23 year-old was shot as he made his way to Aghaloo GAA grounds on February 21, 1988.

Manslaughter charges brought against the soldier involved, Grenadier Guardsman David Jonathan Holden, were dropped in 1990.

He was later fined for negligent discharge of his weapon and allowed to return to duty. In 1990 he was given a medical discharge from the army.

Now, as part of a review into the case, the decision not to prosecute the soldier is to be re-examined.

It is understood the PPS review of the file, which includes the decision not to prosecute, will consider independent forensic evidence and a 2008 Historical Enquiries Team report.

Aidan’s brother Sean said the forensic evidence and the harassment Aidan faced in the lead up to his death, should be important factors in the review.

“Hopefully they will come to the right conclusion,” Sean McAnespie said, after the announcement was made public.

“We want to hold the British army to account, no-one is above the law.”

Solicitor Darragh Mackin of Kevin R Winters Law said it remains the family’s position that Mr McAnespie was “unlawfully and deliberately killed”.

“We now look forward to the review set to take place in respect of the decision not to prosecute Guardsman Holden, and will be engaging with the PPS in the coming weeks.”

The Historical Enquiries Team concluded that Holden’s explanation was the “least likely version” of events.

It said the fatal shot was fired from a distance of 283 metres and the “chances of it being un-aimed or random seem so remote in the circumstances that they can be virtually disregarded”.