British soldier to be charged over checkpoint killing of Aidan McAnespie in 1988

Mr McAnespie was shot dead by machine gun fire after passing through the checkpoint in Tyrone

British soldier to be charged over checkpoint killing of Aidan McAnespie in 1988

Undated handout photo of Aidan McAnespie

A British soldier is to be charged with manslaughter over the killing of Aidan McAnespie near a border checkpoint in 1988.

The 23-year-old was shot dead on the Aughnacloy Road, County Tyrone on his way to a Gaelic football match on 21st February 1988.

He had just past through a vehicle check point manned by the Grenadier Guards when he was hit by machine gun fire.

He died at the scene.

The soldier who fired the shots was charged with manslaughter, however the charges were dropped in 1990.

He claimed he had fired by accident because his fingers were wet. He was fined and medically discharged from the army.

Mr McAnespie's family insisted he had been deliberately targeted after a sustained British Army campaign of harassment.

This afternoon, they said they feel they have now taken a further step towards justice.

His cousin, Brian Gormley, welcomed the decision to prosecute.

"On that particular Sunday, Aidan was walking across the checkpoint to Aghaloo Football Pitch which was on the southern side of the Aughnacloy checkpoint," he said.

"He had just got about two minutes walk down that road - about 100 yards from Aghaloo Football Pitch - and he was shot."

Ten years ago, the PSNI Historical Enquiries Team found the soldier's explanation was the "least likely" version of events.

Following a review by the Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin, the region's Public Prosecution Service have now decided to reverse the 1990 decision not to prosecute.

Mr McAnespie's family have now been informed that the solider will face prosecution for gross negligence manslaughter.