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Former Soldier To Be Prosecuted Over Northern Ireland Death

Aidan McAnespie, 23, died in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, in February 1988.

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A former soldier is to be prosecuted in relation to the death of a man at an Army checkpoint in Northern Ireland.

Aidan McAnespie, 23, was killed in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, in February 1988.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has announced its intention to prosecute a 48-year-old former Grenadier Guardsman for gross negligence manslaughter.

Mr McAnespie was on his way to a local Gaelic Athletic Association club when he was fatally injured.

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

The guardsman was initially charged with manslaughter but the charge was later dropped.

Northern Ireland's Attorney General John Larkin had asked the PPS to re-examine the circumstances of the case following a request by the family for a fresh inquest.

Mr Larkin made the referral after reviewing a report into the shooting by the police's Historical Enquiries Team (HET).

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 on Tuesday morning.

Formal papers will be served on his legal representatives in the coming weeks.