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Former soldier convicted of manslaughter in NI troubles 1988

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Former soldier convicted of manslaughter in NI troubles 1988

Old 25th Nov 2022, 21:54
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Former soldier convicted of manslaughter in NI troubles 1988

See link, more on the story.

https://news.sky.com/story/former-br...eland-12755065



A former British soldier has been found guilty of the manslaughter of a Catholic man shot dead in Northern Ireland in 1988 during the Troubles.

David Holden becomes the first veteran to be convicted of a historical offence since the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of conflict.

Aidan McAnespie was killed in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, 34 years ago after walking through a border security checkpoint.

The 23-year-old had been on his way to a Gaelic football match when he was shot in the back.

Holden, who was 18 at the time serving with the Grenadier Guards, had admitted firing the shot which killed Mr McAnespie, but had said he had discharged the weapon by accident because his hands were wet.

The 53-year-old had denied the charge of gross negligent manslaughter during his non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court.

But trial judge Mr Justice O'Hara said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty.
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Old 26th Nov 2022, 08:56
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Mr Justice O'Hara said he considered the defendant "criminally culpable" beyond any reasonable doubt.

He found that Holden had pointed a machine gun at Mr McAnespie and pulled the trigger, while assuming the gun was not cocked. He said: "That assumption should not have been made."

In his written judgement, Mr Justice O'Hara said he was satisfied the defendant had not cocked the weapon himself before firing it. He said he fundamentally disagreed with the suggestion that it was not exceptionally bad for the defendant to have assumed that the weapon was not cocked. "In my judgement this was the ultimate 'take no chances' situation because the risk of disaster was so great.

David Holden, 53, denied aiming the weapon deliberately at Mr McAnespie "The defendant should have appreciated at the moment he pulled the trigger that if the gun was cocked deadly consequences might follow." The judge told the court Holden had given a "deliberately false account" of what happened. He dismissed the defendant's claim that his hands had been wet from cleaning duties. He also concluded Holden's explanation as to how the weapon came to be fired was "entirely unconvincing" and was a "deliberately false account of what happened".

In the written judgement, he said the defendant had broken two "golden rules", which included never aiming a weapon unless one intends to fire and never increasing the risk of negligent discharge.

The court heard Mr McAnespie was unarmed.
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Old 26th Nov 2022, 09:12
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Hard to have any sympathy for someone that was clearly unfit to carry a firearm. Ignoring all basic firearm safety training, and pointing a loaded weapon at someone, deliberately, and pulling the trigger, flies in the face of everything this young soldier should have been taught.
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Old 26th Nov 2022, 09:58
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No excuse for poor fiirearms handling but what about all the provos who pointed a gun at a squaddie and shot them in the back then Blair (and Kier Starmer) pardoned them.
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Old 26th Nov 2022, 10:24
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
No excuse for poor fiirearms handling but what about all the provos who pointed a gun at a squaddie and shot them in the back then Blair (and Kier Starmer) pardoned them.
Shouldn't be any excuse or pardons for them, either, but we are supposed to hold our own behaviour to higher standards than that of our enemies. There was no doubt that, even though no war had been declared, the terrorists on both sides within the Six Counties were the enemy of the British government. I believe the view at the time of the GFA was that pardoning the actions of enemies was the only way to get out of the vicious cycle of attack - retaliation - attack etc. Whether that was right or wrong depends on your perspective, but I'm convinced that the GFA has saved many lives and has led to the start of reconciliation between the various factions.
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Old 26th Nov 2022, 10:45
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
No excuse for poor fiirearms handling but what about all the provos who pointed a gun at a squaddie and shot them in the back then Blair (and Kier Starmer) pardoned them.
....and sod all to do with kids and Irish passports. The Blairs are scum.
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Old 27th Nov 2022, 18:11
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Responded to thread on this issue not that long ago at NI Troubles amnesty plan changes. but was roundly shouted down by the likes of Helpful Stacker, Crab, and Nutloose for suggesting that British soldiers shouldn't be granted a general amnesty, and that historical allegations should be investigated and justice done. Happy to be vindicated.
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Old 27th Nov 2022, 18:47
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Originally Posted by melmothtw View Post
Happy to be vindicated.
And yet members of PIRA, INLA, UVF, UFF, UDA get away scot free.. Where's the justice in that?
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Old 27th Nov 2022, 19:03
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Originally Posted by melmothtw View Post
Responded to thread on this issue not that long ago at NI Troubles amnesty plan changes. but was roundly shouted down by the likes of Helpful Stacker, Crab, and Nutloose for suggesting that British soldiers shouldn't be granted a general amnesty, and that historical allegations should be investigated and justice done. Happy to be vindicated.
I believe that this is one of those impossible situations, where there is no just or fair outcome that could be accepted by all parties involved. It was a tragedy for the young man that was shot, and for his family, as well as for the young soldier. If anyone, for one moment, thinks that this soldier hasn't already suffered for his actions when he was 19 years old then they really need their bumps felt.

Years ago I met a former soldier that had been involved in the fatal shooting of some young lads that had stolen a car and driven through a check point in NI. He was manning the checkpoint and, along with his colleagues fired at the car. I don't think it was ever proven which of the SLRs had fire the fatal rounds, but that was irrelevant. When I met him, some 20 odd years later, he had been struggling with the consequences of that incident for years, and clearly wasn't at all well. Under the policy that seems to apply now there is every chance that this incident could come before the courts, much as the one in this thread has.

There are times when I wish that we had the US concept of a statute of limitations, beyond which all we can do is strive to get people to forgive each other for tragic mistakes made in the past. It seems to me, as someone that is part Irish, that the biggest single problem is the few who keep dragging up events from the past to justify their ongoing tit-for-tat actions. If the peace keeping activities in NI had been a war, then I believe that in many ways forgiveness would be easier. A former colleague travelled to the Falklands this year and met Argentinians that had killed his mates. For him, this was cathartic, and laid to rest some of the ghosts that have plagued him since 1982, and he came back noticeably changed. It is a great shame we seem to struggle to do the same for all those involved in the NI conflict.
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Old 27th Nov 2022, 20:16
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As an outsider to the whole NI situation and its history....I see parallels at the individual level that relates to other events where Soldiers are involved in the taking of life.

There are volumes of laws, treaties, and conventions along with military law, and Rules of Engagement that a instruct us on how a War must be fought.

War and its cousins is a miserable thing, brutal, and can never be executed in a perfect manner for any number of reasons.

We are sent from our home and hearth at the order of our government and many times under very dubious reasons and later we find perhaps not very honorable ones at that.

Then we find we might be fighting not only our designated enemy but our own Chain of Command for really questionable reasons.

Northern Ireland is no different in that and the British Army is no different than other Armies.

The way to Peace, genuine Peace is Northern Ireland is beyond most of us to design.

That will have to be done by the People there....as they have to live with one another.

From my visits to Vietnam as a tourist confirm the benefits that accrue from meeting with your old adversaries.

I have watched some severely affected Soldiers and Marines who experienced brutal close quarters combat and who carried the hidden scars of those experiences find some closure and release as a result of those encounters with former enemies.

It does not erase what happened before but with years to reflect upon it all then meet your opponents who also suffered those same kinds of hidden wounds.....it does promote healing.

War changes you....and places burdens on you that those that have not had that experience cannot understand.

Sitting around Legion Bar or sitting at an. outdoor patio of a Vietnamese Bar with former NVA and VC Soldiers....the stories were interesting and helped heal some old wounds.

One thing I learned is you cannot fight your way to peace.
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 08:15
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Good post SAS - that's what they found in S Africa and other places - you can't just go on and on fighting the old battles if you want peace
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 09:34
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I've often pondered on the culpability of those who put, often very young, soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland and expected them to behave like police officers in a situation that felt to them like a war (which was what they had been trained to fight).

When a nervous squaddie pulls the trigger it's them that will bear the responsibility not the general or the politician that put them there.

But if the accountable manager of an airline put an inappropriately trained pilot in a role they were not suitable for and that led to a fatality they will (rightly) face consequences.

(I concede that this particular case seems to be a pretty clear example of gross negligence on the part of the soldier but many others are not so clear cut).

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Old 28th Nov 2022, 10:11
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Originally Posted by OvertHawk View Post
I've often pondered on the culpability of those who put, often very young, soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland and expected them to behave like police officers in a situation that felt to them like a war (which was what they had been trained to fight).

When a nervous squaddie pulls the trigger it's them that will bear the responsibility not the general or the politician that put them there.

But if the accountable manager of an airline put an inappropriately trained pilot in a role they were not suitable for and that led to a fatality they will (rightly) face consequences.

(I concede that this particular case seems to be a pretty clear example of gross negligence on the part of the soldier but many others are not so clear cut).

This seems to be the very crux of the problem in NI, at least in the early days. None of the young men sent there in the 70s and 80s were trained to be police officers, they had mostly been trained for war. I wonder how many of them at that time had been trained and fully understood how to interact with civilians and properly assess threats in that environment?

My best guess is that few would have had the training or maturity to deal with often complex situations, where most of the people around them were just innocent bystanders. It is easy to get a view from the media that NI is a place overrun with terrorists, but the reality is that the extremists on both sides are just tiny proportion of the population, most likely less than 1%.
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 10:21
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You could say the ultimate culpability lies with the Irish poplulation that took up arms in the belief it would solve their problems.
No weapons on the street killing each other, no need for the army to be there.
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 10:36
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
You could say the ultimate culpability lies with the Irish poplulation that took up arms in the belief it would solve their problems.
No weapons on the street killing each other, no need for the army to be there.
Such an astonishingly bad take.
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 10:47
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Why? there are plenty of ways to air ones grievences without bombing and maiming innocent people. I am talking about the whole NI troubles. The numbers involved in violence were a minority of the population
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 10:59
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
Why? there are plenty of ways to air ones grievences without bombing and maiming innocent people. I am talking about the whole NI troubles. The numbers involved in violence were a minority of the population
Itís not a defence. Iím sure that his legal team didnít even consider it as such.
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 11:02
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'One man's terrorist...', Nutloose.

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Old 28th Nov 2022, 11:37
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Originally Posted by Toadstool View Post
It’s not a defence. I’m sure that his legal team didn’t even consider it as such.
I wasn't saying it was a defence, I was just replying to the post above mine ( and the quote below ) pondering if the culpability should rest with those that sent the young soldiers to Ireland I.e the Uk Government, and pointing out that you could say the ultimate culpability should be those that started their war of Terror on the population of NI. Without those individuals, there would have been no need to put the army there in the first place.


Originally Posted by OvertHawk View Post
I've often pondered on the culpability of those who put, often very young, soldiers on the streets of Northern Ireland and expected them to behave like police officers in a situation that felt to them like a war (which was what they had been trained to fight).
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Old 28th Nov 2022, 11:52
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
I wasn't saying it was a defence, I was just replying to the post above mine ( and the quote below ) pondering if the culpability should rest with those that sent the young soldiers to Ireland I.e the Uk Government, and pointing out that you could say the ultimate culpability should be those that started their war of Terror on the population of NI. Without those individuals, there would have been no need to put the army there in the first place.
Surely, the 'ultimate culpability' should be with those who invaded a sovereign neighbouring country and then calved off and annexed a sizeable portion of it to 'protect' an ethnic minority who had been artificially transplanted there centuries before and who now wished to remain citizens of 'the motherland'. Sound familiar?

Of course, all of this is getting away from the OP - that a British solider pointed a loaded machine gun at a civilian who was just going about his business in a British city, seemingly didn't check to see if it was cocked or even if the safety catch was on (if you believe his version of events that it was an accident, which frankly is implausible), and pulled the trigger. This happened, and there are posters (including the OP) who think such matters should not be investigated purely because it was a British solider, and we're the good guys, right?
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