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British soldier to face trial over manslaughter of man shot dead in 1988

The 48-year-old man is to be prosecuted for the offence of gross negligence manslaughter.

Aidan McAnespie
Aidan McAnespie
Image: PA Archive/PA Images

A BRITISH SOLDIER will face a manslaughter charge over the death of Aidan McAnespie.

The 23-year-old was shot shortly after crossing an army checkpoint on his way to Aughaloo GAC on 21 February 1988. The soldier involved claimed the killing was accidental. He said that his wet hands slipped on the trigger.

Aidan’s killing sparked widespread anger and led to the Irish government appointing then Deputy Garda Commissioner Eugene Crowley to carry out an inquiry.

However, the full content of the report was not made public.

Today, the McAnespie family was informed that a soldier will face prosecution over the killing.

The Public Prosecutions Service (PPS) in Northern Ireland confirmed the charge. A statement said:

“The 48-year-old man is to be prosecuted for the offence of gross negligence manslaughter in connection with the fatal shooting of Mr Aidan McAnespie moments after he passed through an army checkpoint on his way to a Gaelic football match.

“The suspect was first charged with Mr McAnespie’s manslaughter in 1988. However, these proceedings were withdrawn at Belfast Magistrates’ Court in September 1988 after a decision not to prosecute was taken upon the evidence available at that time.”

A PPS spokesperson said the decision to prosecute the former soldier was taken after a review was conducted into the original decision not to bring a prosecution in connection with the 23-year-old’s death.

The review commenced in January 2016 after the case was referred to the PPS by the Attorney General for Northern Ireland.

“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.”

Comments are closed as the matter is due before the courts.

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