Three other cases involving soldiers’ actions before N Ireland courts

In the last eight years, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service has taken prosecutorial decisions in 26 cases related to the Troubles, and three of these involve soldiers.

The three cases which are currently live include that of Dennis Hutchings, 77, who has denied a charge of attempted murder over the death of John Pat Cunningham in 1974.

The 27-year-old, who had learning difficulties, was shot in the back as he ran away from an Army patrol near Benburb, Co Tyrone.

Mr Hutchings has contended it was never his intention to kill or injure Mr Cunningham, but that he was firing warning shots to get him to stop.

Aidan McAnespie death investigation
Aidan McAnespie death investigation

In a separate case, two former paratroopers are to stand trial charged with murdering an Official IRA man in Belfast.

The former soldiers, who cannot be identified, allegedly killed Joe McCann in Belfast in April 1972.

The defendants, now aged in their 60s, are known only as Soldier A and Soldier C.

They were granted temporary anonymity at an early stage amid fears that identification could put their lives at risk.

McCann was shot in disputed circumstances near his home in the Market area.

In the third case currently before Northern Ireland’s courts, a former soldier has been charged over the death of Aidan McAnespie, 23, in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, in February 1988.

Former Grenadier Guardsman David Jonathan Holden, 48, has been accused of gross negligence manslaughter.

Mr McAnespie was on his way to a local GAA club when he was shot by the soldier.

Mr Holden has claimed his hands were wet and his finger slipped on the trigger of his heavy machine gun.

The PPS is still considering whether to prosecute one further case which involves members of the military.