Northern Ireland news

Former soldier pleads not guilty to manslaughter of Aidan McAnespie

Aidan McAnespie was shot dead close to a checkpoint on the border at Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone in February 1988

A former soldier has pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of Co Tyrone man Aidan McAnespie.

David Jonathan Holden appeared before Belfast Crown Court, where he was formally charged with manslaughter and a trial date for next January was fixed.

The 51-year old attended via videolink, and after confirming he could see and hear the proceedings, he was charged with unlawfully killing Aidan Martin McAnespie on February 21 1988.

When he was asked how he pleaded, Holden replied 'not guilty.'

Mr McAnespie (23) was shot dead close to a checkpoint on the border at Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone as he made his way to a GAA match.

An application to have the charge against the former Grenadier Guardsman quashed was refused by Mr Justice O'Hara in August.

It emerged during today's hearing that a fresh legal application is being launched by the defence.

Explaining this 'abuse of process' application to members of Mr McAnespie's family, who also attended via videolink, Mr Justice O'Hara said there were three possible routes that could be taken.

He said that firstly the application could be granted and the case against Holden dismissed; secondly the application could be refused and the trial goes ahead - or thirdly it is heard and no ruling is given until the Crown makes its case at trial.

Mr Justice O'Hara said he would hear the 'abuse of process' application in December, but said it was appropriate to fix a date for trial - should it be required - which was then scheduled for January 10 2022.

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