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Judge to rule on Aidan McAnespie killing

AN increased police presence was in place at Dungannon Magistrates Court on Monday for the final stage of a hearing into the case of former soldier accused of the manslaughter of Aidan McAnespie over 30 years ago.
 
While the hearing challenging the position of the Public Prosecution Service is now complete, it will be later this month before the accused will find out if he will be committed for trial.
 
David Jonathon Holden (50) appeared at Dungannon Magistrates Court for the second day of argument by way of Preliminary Investigation (PI), wearing his regimental blazer, and with many supporters seated in the public gallery.
 
With an address given as care of his lawyer’s Belfast offices, he is charged with unlawfully killing Aidan McAnespie on February 21, 1988.
 
Mr McAnespie was shot dead as he walked through an army checkpoint in Aughnacloy, having been struck by one of three bullets fired from a machine gun.
 
Aged 23, he was on his way to a Gaelic football match. 
 
Seated behind the dock, were many family and friends of the deceased, as well as supporters, including Michelle Gildernew MP and members of various groups including Relatives for Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre.
 
The matter was heard by District Judge Amanda Brady, over the course of two days, the first of which was back in August.
 
The content of the hearing cannot be reported at this time, although the final ruling can be disclosed as it will form the decision on whether or not Mr Holden will stand trial.
 
A former Grenadier Guardsman, Mr Holden was 18 at the time of the incident. He now resides in England.
 
He listened intently to proceedings throughout and did not speak at any stage, save to confirm his identity.
 
After counsel for both the defence and prosecution concluded submissions, Judge Brady said, “I will take time to consider all evidence and submissions in this matter to establish if there is a case to answer. I will give a written ruling in due course.”
 
While no specific date has been set, it is expected the ruling will be delivered later this month.
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