10 February 2023 No Comments by The Northern Standard

The family of Aidan McAnespie was described as “a credit to his memory and an inspiration to many other victims and families of British forces during the conflict” by Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy after a suspended prison sentence was imposed on the former member of the British Army convicted of the manslaughter of the 23-year-old Co Tyrone man at an Aughnacloy checkpoint in 1988.

At his sentence hearing at Belfast Crown Court last Thursday, David Jonathan Holden, aged 53, had a term of three years’ imprisonment suspended for three years by judge Mr Justice O’Hara. Mr Holden, an English former Grenadier Guardsman whose address in court was listed as c/o Chancery House, Victoria Street, Belfast, was convicted at the court in November of the manslaughter by gross negligence of Mr McAnespie.

He was the first British Army veteran to be convicted of a historical offence in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement. Mr McAnespie was shot in the back just after walking through a Border security checkpoint on his way to a GAA venue. The defendant admitted firing the fatal shot but made the case that his weapon had discharged accidently because he had handled it when his hands were wet. But his claims were rejected by Mr Justice O’Hara who said in November that he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Holden was guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Members of Mr McAnespie’s family were in court for the sentencing hearing. Speaking afterwards, Aidan’s brother, Sean McAnespie said: “The most important point is that David Holden was found guilty of the unlawful killing of our brother Aidan. “We are glad we had our day in court. David Holden could have given an honest account of what happened that day but didn’t. The judge was clear he had given a deliberately false…

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