Hopes raised for family of Aidan McAnespie
Hopes raised for family of Aidan McAnespie


A decision not to prosecute a British soldier for killing a civilian near the Irish border during the conflict is to be reviewed, according to Crown Prosecutor Barra McGrory.

Aidan McAnespie, a Sinn Fein election worker, was struck in back by one of the shots fired in his direction at Aughnacloy military checkpoint in 1988.

Manslaughter charges against the soldier were dropped two years later. Instead he was fined for negligent discharge of his weapon and later medically discharged from the army.

McAnespie’s family have fought a long and assiduous campaign to have the failure to prosecute reviewed. His brother Sean said they had new evidence. “We knew the original decision was wrong,” he said. “The family would like to make a point to the British army that no one is above the law.”

His brother was shot dead after he crossed the border from County Monaghan on his way back from a Gaelic football match. He had been subject to constant harassment, his brother said.

He said the family were hopeful the soldier will face prosecution. “We are more hopeful now than we were say 10 or 20 years ago. We think times have changed.”

Family solicitor Darragh Mackin said he was confident that the family will get the “correct decision, the decision that they have been campaigning for for many years”.

The soldier had claimed his hands were wet and his finger slipped on the trigger of his heavy machine gun.

In 2008, a report by Historic Enquiries Team - the body previously tasked with investigating unsolved crimes during the conflict - said the soldier’s description of events was the “least likely version” of what happened.

Local representative Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the decision.

“The original case against the British soldier failed to hear all the evidence available,” she said.

“It is important the family of Aidan McAnespie get the truth to what happened that day as Aidan walked through the British Army check point.

“I will continue to support the family who have carried out a very dignified campaign to get justice for Aidan and hope that his inquest can now proceed as soon as possible.”

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