British soldier to be prosecuted over death of Aidan McAnespie in 1988

A British soldier will face prosecution for the manslaughter of Aidan McAnespie, a law firm representing his family has confirmed.

Mr McAnespie, 23, was shot dead by a soldier of the Grenadier Guards in Co Tyrone on February 21, 1988.

He had walked through the British Army vehicle checkpoint on the Aughnacloy Road when he was killed by one of three bullets fired from a machine gun. He died at the scene.

Mr McAnespie had been on his way to a football match at the nearby Aghaloo GAA grounds.

The soldier who fired the shots was charged with manslaughter but the case was dropped in 1990.

The soldier, now 48, claimed his hands were wet and his finger slipped on the trigger of his heavy machine gun.

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service confirmed that the decision to prosecute was taken following a review and Mr McAnespie's family has been informed.

The UK Government expressed "deep regret" about the killing in 2009.

Mr McAnespie's family has claimed he had been harassed by soldiers as he passed through the checkpoint on previous occasions.

It is understood the decision to prosecute hinged on the findings of a fresh ballistics report.

A PPS spokeswoman said: "Following careful consideration of all the evidence currently available in the 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."

It is understood the ex-soldier was informed of the prosecution decision by email this morning. Formal papers will be served on his legal representatives in the coming weeks.

- Digital Desk and PA

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