Former British soldier to be sentenced over Aidan McAnespie murder

Aidan McAnespie, 23,was shot in the back from a British army observation (checkpoint) post in Aughnacloy on 21st February, 1998.

Friday, 27th January, 2023.

A former British soldier who shot a Co Tyrone man dead as he walked to a GAA match 35 years ago will be sentenced later today.

David Holden, 53 was convicted in November of the manslaughter of Aidan McAnespie, who was shot in the back on his way to a GAA Football match.

He is the first British army veteran to be convicted since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Whatever sentence is imposed, Holden will benefit from the agreement’s early release scheme for prisoners and will serve a maximum of two years.

Mr McAnespie, 23, was shot in the back from an army checkpoint in the village of Aughnacloy on the Tyrone/Monaghan border on 21 February, 1988.

He was walking to a game in the nearby GAA ground.

The former soldier, who was 18 at the time and serving in the Grenadier Guards, claimed the shooting had been an accident.

But the judge ruled he had pointed a machine gun at Mr McAnespie from an observation sanger in the checkpoint and pulled the trigger, assuming the weapon was not cocked and ready for use.

That was an assumption he should never have made and as a result he was guilty of manslaughter “by gross negligence”, the judge ruled.

He dismissed the soldier’s claim that it happened as he handled the weapon with wet gloves and that his finger had slipped onto the trigger.

The British Army observation post (left) from where the British soldier fired the fatal shot

The judge described that as a “deliberately false account” and said the expert evidence had been that it took nine pounds of pressure on the trigger to fire the weapon.

Three rounds were fired in a short burst. One of them ricocheted off the road and hit Mr McAnespie in the back.

During the trial, the court was told that Mr McAnespie was a “person of interest” to the security forces.

He had complained of regular harassment at the checkpoint and often parked his car and walked through it to the GAA grounds to avoid lengthy delays caused by searches of his vehicle.

Mr McAnespie’s family is expected at court in Belfast for the sentencing.

The case concludes as the British government’s controversial legacy plans continue to make their way through Westminster.

They have been rejected by all of Northern Ireland’s political parties and the Irish Government and face considerable opposition in the House of Lords where they are currently being debated.

The plan would effectively end all criminal and civil cases and inquest hearings relating to the Troubles.

Instead, there would be a truth recovery process in which former paramilitaries would be encouraged to participate, in return for an amnesty from prosecution.

The funeral of Mr McAnespie as it passes underneath the observation post from where he was shot dead from 1988 Photo copyright PACEMAKER

The British government has promised amendments in the face of overwhelming criticism, but has been accused of tinkering at the edges.

The legislation follows a Conservative party commitment to legal protections for British army veterans.

After the sentence is handed down by the court, Holden’s legal team must apply to Northern Ireland’s Sentence Review Commissioners to have it commuted.

With many thanks to: RTÉ News and Conor Macauley (Northern Correspondent) for the original story.

Follow these links to find out more on this story: Former British soldier to be sentenced over Aidan McAnespie killing

With many thanks to: RTÉ News and Connor Macauley (Northern Correspondent) Follow@TVconormac for the original story.

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Police incease in ‘Public Interest Immunity’ material linked to LVF murder of Seamas Dillon had not been completed eight-years-ago the coroner Court was told.

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‘Cash seized in Omagh raid linked to INLA paramilitaries ‘.

Irish National Liberation Army

‘Coalisland incident leads to six men charged with various offences ‘.

Coalisland, Co Tyrone.

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The house at the centre of the MI5 bugging operation

The property at Gortin, Co Tyrone

AN online booking service is believed to have been used to rent a house later bugged by MI5 as part of Operation Arbacia.

The four-bedroom property is located close to Creggan in Co Tyrone, just off the main road between Cookstown and Omagh.

Tourists visiting the rural bolthole could have no idea that it has been at the centre of one of the most significant surveillance operations targeting republicans in recent times.

Kilngate Cottage is located near the banks of the Ballinderry river and commands spectacular views of the Sperrin Mountains in the distance.

It is believed to be owned by a local family who have no connection with any illegal activity and absolutely no knowledge of either the meetings alleged to be linked to the ‘IRA’ or the associated MI5 operation.

Suspected agent Dennis McFadden is believed to have transported some of those alleged to have attended a meeting in February to the house after picking them up from a car park in Cookstown.

In the days afterwards someone identifying themselves as Dennis posted a review of the property online.

The post described the house as “exceptional”.

Images of the interior of the house in Creggan, Co Tryone

“Would definitely recommend this house.”

It took place at an isolated cottage in the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains.

The house, which sits at the end of a short country lane, was empty when visited by The Irish News at the weekend.

It is understood this property was also rented by Mr McFadden and the suspected agent was also responsible for transporting some of those alleged to be in attendance to the meeting point.

The three-bedroom bungalow and around seven acres are currently listed for sale with a local auctioneer.

It is understood the property is not locally owned and that the owner also had absolutely no knowledge of either the meeting or MI5 operation and has no connection with any illegal activity.

Local people reported an increased PSNI presence in the area in recent weeks, particularly in the immediate vicinity of the property.

One also reported an unusual incident several weeks ago when “four or five vans” were seen at the house at around 2am.

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Connla Young for the original story 

Gun attacks on Coalisland home allegedly linked to €250,000 drug debt owed to Dublin-based criminals, court told

Laganside Court House in Belfast

GUN attacks on a Co Tyrone home are allegedly linked to a €250,000 drug debt owed to Dublin-based criminals, a court has heard.

Police claimed the house in Coalisland was targeted twice amid phone warnings to “cause damage” to a family living there if the money was not paid.

Details emerged as Dublin man Robert Redmond (32) appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court charged with threats to kill on dates between February 1 and July 2 2019.

Redmond, of Woodview Close in the Donaghmede area, was arrested at a hotel on Tuesday after apparently travelling north for a night out.

A detective said the case is connected to separate gun attacks on the Coalisland property in March and July last year.

In the first incident a number of shots were fired through the windows of the house.

Police believe the attack was carried out because a member of the family living there was under threat from Dublin criminals.

The alleged victim claims he had developed a friendship with Redmond after they met in Lanzarote, the court heard.

But according to the detective their relationship deteriorated when Redmond held him responsible for a €250,000 drug debt.

Threats to kill were allegedly made in WhatsApp messages, with one telling the man he had two weeks to pay and signed off “tick tock, tick tock”.

It was claimed that another message warned: “I’m going to cause damage to your family.”

After shots were fired at the house for a second time the man allegedly received further telephone communication informing him he would be getting “five or six in the face”.

Defence solicitor Hamill Clawson insisted Redmond is only charged threats to kill, which are denied.

“He was released unconditionally in relation to the alleged shooting that occurred a year ago at the home address of the complainant,” the lawyer said.

Asked why his client was in Northern Ireland this week, Mr Clawson explained: “There’s still a lockdown in the south, he came up to Belfast for a night out.”

Redmond was refused bail due to concerns he may not comply with any release conditions.

District Judge Mark Hamill remanded him in custody to appear again next month.

With many thanks to: The Irish News for the original story 


Lone Wolf all alone in prison as dissident gangs shun her

DISSIDENT lone wolf Christine Connor was given the cold shoulder when she returned to prison this week.

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The Sunday World can reveal she was ignored by some inmates after it was revealed she had been slagging of members of Óghlaigh na hÉireann on social media for not murdering members of the PSNI/RUC. The 35-year-old called ONH out for failing to kill a cop, claiming they weren’t committed to the armed struggle, just making money. Connor was taken under the wing of the NIRA when she was first imprisoned with Soaradh campaigning on her behalf when she claimed she was being mistreated behind bars. She fell in with the then Real IRA, which is now the current day NIRA, after sharing a cell in Hydebank Prison with Sharon Rafferty who befriended a terrified Connor. Rafferty was was the first person to be jailed in the North of Ireland under terror laws brought in to combat home-grown Islamic extremism.


Rafferty, who now sits on the board of Saoradh, was one of a gang of four jailed for a string of terrorist-related offences including the setting up for a training camp at Formil Wood on the outskirts of Omagh, Co Tyrone. Sources say she is still supportive of Connor.

Soaradh the so-called political wing of the NIRA

“Sharon has kept in touch and Soaradh has to because she is a prisoner of war, it’s their duty, but she is hard work, completely delusional.” Sources say Connor is already struggling inside and is unpopular with fellow inmates. And this time she is alone, with no fellow dissident to share her cell and offer her support and protection. The last time she was behind bars she was repeatedly threatened and attacked by a fellow inmate. “She is not on a republican wing, she is with (ODC) the criminals and the majority of them hate republicans guts and they hate her. “There are some very dangerous people in there and to some of them she is IRA SCUM.”

With many thanks to the Sunday World and Paula Mackin for the EXCLUSIVE original story 

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