There was a heavy police presence at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court yesterday for the final stage of a hearing into the case of a former soldier accused of shooting a Catholic man dead more than 30 years ago.
Aidan McAnespie (23) was killed as he walked through an army checkpoint in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, having been struck by one of three bullets fired from a machine gun.
Although the hearing challenging the position of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is now complete, it will be later this month before a decision is taken over whether former Grenadier Guardsman David Jonathan Holden will be committed for trial for manslaughter.
Fifty-year-old Holden, whose address was given as care of his lawyer’s Belfast offices, appeared in court for the second day of a Preliminary Investigation (PI) wearing his regimental blazer, and with many supporters seated in the public gallery of the courtroom.
He is charged with unlawfully killing Mr McAnespie on February 21, 1988, who was on his way to a Gaelic football match.
Seated behind the dock were many family and friends of the deceased, as well as their supporters, including Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew.
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 cannot be reported at this time, although the final ruling can be disclosed as it will inform the decision over whether or not Holden will stand trial.
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.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which continues to hold PIs, with other jurisdictions abolishing them some time ago.
It is the right of the defence to mount a PI in order to examine evidence of some or all PPS witnesses, with is recorded and signed off as statements.
Such hearings require specific court procedures, usually involving setting aside a specific venue.
A District Judge presides and, after hearing all evidence, will issue a ruling on whether or not the accused person is to stand trial.
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Staff Reporter for the original story
BLOODY Sunday relatives are to challenge the anonymity granted to Soldier F.
Before yesterday’s hearing at Derry Magistrates Court, families of victims and surviving wounded walked in unison from the city’s Diamond to Bishop Street Courthouse. Michael McKinney said the first hearing in the case was an important day and he was thinking of his brother William as he went into the court. “I was leaving the house this morning and I looked at a picture of us at Downing Street shortly after we started the campaign for justice for Willie and the others and I thought we’ve come a long way since the campaign started in 1992,” he said. Liam Wray, also described yesterday as “historic”.
Following the hearing, solicitor Ciaran Shields – who represents the McKinney family, three of the wounded as well as the family of Patrick O’Donnell, deceased, who was also wounded – said the court proceedings progressed as expected. He also revealed plans to challenge the anonymity granted to Soldier F. Following Bloody Sunday, most of the British soldiers involved
were granted anonymity as a security measure. That was renewed during the Seville Inquiry, while Derry District Judge Barney McElholm granted a further interim order yesterday. Mr Shields said he intended to write to the Public Prosection Service to ask it to “robustly” challenge Soldier F’s anonymity. “Public confidence in this prosecution requires it to proceed in an open and transparent manner,” he said. “Soldier F should be prosecuted in a manner consistent with the prosecution of the vast majority of the limited number of soldiers who were prosecuted in the past for murder and attempted murder, without the benefit of anonymity.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Seamus McKinney for the original story email@example.com
A SISTER of two Co Armagh men who died in separate shoot-to-kill incidents has been made subject to one of the largest unexplained wealth orders (UWO) since the legislation was introduced. Donna Grew (53), originally from just outside Moy, Co Armagh, is the director of property management companies based in London where she lives. On Wednesday the National Crime Agency said it had secured an interim freezing order and UWO at the High Court in London on July 24th. Ms Grew is suspected of having links to paramilitary activity and large-scale cigarette smuggling. She has been ordered to explain how she acquired properties worth £3.2million.
The properties cannot be sold, transferred or dissipated while the investigation is ongoing. It is just the fourth time that the powers have been used since their introduction last year. The legislation has yet to be introduced in the North of Ireland. Ms Grew is from a very well known republican family. Her brother Dessie Grew (37) was one of two IRA members shot dead by the SAS under disputed circumstances near Loughgall on October 9th 1990.
Another brother, INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) member Seamus Grew (31), pictured below,
was murdered near Armagh on December 12th, 1982 by the RUC. Ms Grew is expected to fight the UWO. The civil recovery legislation is controversial because it reverses the burden of proof. Last October the High Court in London upheld the use of the first UWO against Zamira Hajiyeva, wife of Jahangir Hajiyeva, a former banker jailed for fraud and embezzlement in Azerbaijan. It compelled her to tell the NCA how she could afford £22m of UK real estate.
With many thanks to the: Irish News and Allison Morris (Security Correspondent) for the original story firstname.lastname@example.org
The murders of both of her brothers are explained below
SAS soldiers facing shoot to kill allegations over IRA murders’used reasonable force’, inquest rules
SAS soldiers at the centre of controversial “shoot-to-kill” allegations over the deaths of two IRA members in The North of Ireland have been found to have acted in a controlled and professional way, the Ministry of Defence said today.
Dessie Grew, 37, and Martin McCaughey, 23, were killed in a hail of bullets when troops opened fire on them near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.
The high-profile case became one of a number where security forces faced allegations they had secretly planned to kill IRA members without any attempt to arrest them.
The Ministry of Defence has welcomed the findings of an inquest jury in Belfast that the soldiers used reasonable force in the incident, including when shots were fired at one of the IRA members as he lay wounded.
“We welcome the decision of the jury who clearly found that the soldiers involved acted in a controlled and professional way when faced with a grave threat to their lives,” said spokesman for the MoD in Northern Ireland.
The troops had a mushroom shed near Loughgall under surveillance amid suspicions a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism.
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Shortly after midnight on October 9, 1990, Grew and McCaughey arrived at the scene. The men were armed with AK47 rifles, and wore gloves and balaclavas.
A soldier opened fire claiming he feared his life and the lives of his colleagues were in danger.
Other troops said they returned fire at sparks they believed were muzzle flashes coming from armed IRA members.
It emerged the republicans did not shoot and the soldiers later said they were firing at flashes they subsequently realised were caused by their own bullets.
Questions were also raised over why Grew was shot at close quarters as he lay injured on the ground.
Soldiers who gave evidence at the inquest were not identified during the hearings in Belfast’s Laganside courts complex and testified from behind a curtain.
They faced lengthy cross-examination from the legal team representing the bereaved families, who challenged their account of events.
The case was one of several so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which caused international controversy at the height of the Troubles and sparked a series of official investigations.
But the jury in the inquest found that the troops were operating at a time when IRA attacks on security forces were at a high level, and that McCaughey and Grew had put their own lives in danger by being in the area of the stolen car, wearing masks and carrying guns.
Jurors backed the soldiers’ belief that they felt their lives were in danger and found that they had used reasonable force under the circumstances.
The jury also considered the account of a soldier who told the inquest that as troops moved towards the mushroom sheds and opened a door, the wounded Grew made a noise and moved towards his gun, leading the soldier to shoot.
The jury found the soldier, who fired two shots into Grew, had felt he was under threat and ruled his reaction was reasonable.
Jurors could not come to a unanimous decision on the balance of probabilities whether or not there was an opportunity to attempt to arrest the IRA members.
But the jury agreed that once the soldiers felt compromised, they had no other reasonable course of action than to open fire.
With many thanks to: The Telegraph for the original story.
RUC man who shot unarmed PIRA man told doctor job had been “great until ceasefire”
18 October 2012
A police officer who shot dead an unarmed IRA man later told a doctor that his job had been “great until the ceasefire”, an inquest into the killing has heard.
Pearse Jordan (22) was shot dead by the RUC’s elite HMSU unit on the Falls Road in west Belfast on November 25, 1992.
Jordan had been driving a stolen car when it was rammed off the road by a HMSU unit led by sergeant `A`.
As Jordan exited the car and tried to run away he was hit by three shots fired by `A`.
He was fatally wounded and died a short time later.
`A` claimed that he’d opened fire when Jordan had turned towards him convincing the policeman that he was about to open fire.
However it quickly emerged that the 22 year-old was unarmed and had been shot in the back while trying to escape.
In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ordered the British government to pay compensation to the dead man’s family after it ruled that inquest procedures into the killing were flawed.
In 2002 a legal challenge taken by the Jordan family resulted in the Lord Chancellor amending the law to compel soldiers and police officers responsible for lethal force shootings to attend inquest hearings.
The Jordan family campaigned for an inquest into the killing for nearly 20 years before a hearing officially opened last month.
Despite the controversial nature of the shoot-to-kill allegations, inquest proceedings have gone virtually unreported in the media.
SERGEANT `A` MAKES UNEXPECTED APPEARANCE AT INQUEST
However the Detail can reveal that `A` has now given evidence, despite having previously refused to take part in proceedings for nearly a decade.
In court this week `A`, who now lives abroad, said that he had previously refused to attend inquest proceedings since 2004 because of fears that his identity would be revealed.
A number of police officers involved in the fatal shooting have been granted anonymity.
`A` had failed to attend the inquest when called as a witness earlier in proceedings, but unexpectedly appeared to give evidence this week.
Questioned by the Jordan family’s barrister Barry MacDonald SC (instructed by Madden & Finucane solicitors), as to why he had only now chosen to give evidence, he said:
“One reason was I knew the inquest had actively started and another is there is only one person who can give my side of events and that is me….I’m here to give my side of events.”
The court was told `A` joined the RUC in 1973 as a 23 year-old and was promoted to sergeant five years later.
In 1980 he joined the RUC’s Special Support Unit (SSU), an elite uniformed team which was trained by the SAS.
SSU was controversially involved in a series of alleged shoot-to-kill incidents in 1982, when six suspected paramilitaries were shot dead in three separate incidents in Co Armagh.
The killings sparked outrage when it emerged that all six had been unarmed and that SSU officers – including `A` – had made false statements to cover up what had really happened.
Following the controversy SSU was rebranded as Headquarters Mobile Support Unit (HMSU).
The court heard that `A` had been chosen for the unit because of his calmness in dangerous situations and how he had taken part in hundreds of anti-terror operations and had been the leader of an RUC sniper unit as well as having trained VIP bodyguards.
On 25 November 1992 `A` had been the leader of a HSMU unit in west Belfast tasked to support a surveillance operation against a suspected IRA bomb factory at Arizona Street.
HMSU had a number of vehicles, including a red Ford Orion driven by Jordan, under surveillance.
His unit had been tasked to stop the Orion as it drove along the Falls Road under the pretence that its rear brake lights were not working.
`A` told the court that when his unit attempted to stop the car Jordan had sped off and a high speed chase ensued, ending when the police car rammed the Orion off the road.
Seconds later Jordan got out of the car and tried to run away across the Falls Road.
`A` fired five shots, hitting Jordan three times.
He died a short time later.
`A` claimed that he’d shot Jordan when he turned as he was running away and he feared he was going to shoot him.
However forensic evidence later showed that the 22 year-old was unarmed and – contrary to police accounts – had his back to `A` when he was shot.
When `A` was asked by Mr MacDonald if HMSU units had been trained to shoot to kill rather than to shoot to try and disable a suspect, he said:
“Yes if you want to put it that way.”
Questioned if he had thrived on being involved in dangerous situations during his career, he replied: “It was my job.”
Asked whether he had been at the “peak of his powers” as a police officer at the time of the Jordan shooting, he said: “I couldn’t possibly answer that.”
The inquest was told that `A` had described himself as one of the most experienced and capable armed police officers in western Europe in a personal profile which had been requested by then RUC Chief Constable Sir Hugh Annesley following the Jordan shooting.
When asked why the chief constable had sought a personal history of his police career, `A` said: “I’ve no idea.”
The court was told how `A` had been placed on administrative duties while an investigation into the fatal shooting was carried out.
However he’d found desk duties boring.
Asked why he’d told an RUC doctor in 1995 that his job had been “great until the ceasefire”, he replied: “I don’t know, because it was.”
He also admitted to the doctor that he’d become “irritable” in his home life following his enforced removal from operational duties.
He said that events prior to the shooting had involved a high speed car chase, which resulted in police ramming Jordan’s car, believing it was transporting a bomb into Belfast city centre.
“I got out and reacted in a flash,” he said, adding later, “maybe you needed to be there.”
He described the Jordan incident as one of the worst professional experiences of his career, but denied that he had been wrong to the shoot an unarmed man.
“When he turned around I couldn’t see his hands and I thought my life was in danger.”
Challenged by Mr MacDonald that the threat to his life could only have been perceived rather than real, `A’ replied:
“I was assuming at the time he was going to raise his hands with a weapon.”
As part of his elite training `A` had taken part in live weapons exercises, which involved firing at pop-up cardboard figures of armed terrorists as well as unarmed civilians.
Questioned as to whether shooting an unarmed man would have been accepted in training sessions, he admitted: “I would have been marked down for it, because I probably shouldn’t have.”
He went on: “I agree with you, in a training situation, in a pop-up cardboard target, I possibly might not have done that.”
However he rejected Mr MacDonald’s accusation that he had acted recklessly by opening fire on a busy road with civilians in the immediate vicinity.
“No that’s wrong. You keep bringing up my involvement in hundreds of anti-terrorist operations. You can’t have it both ways.”
FORENSIC EVIDENCE CONTRADICTS POLICE ACCOUNTS
`A` had claimed that his vision of Mr Jordan’s full torso had been blocked by the police car from behind which he had opened fire.
However evidence from forensic experts suggested that the position of spent cartridges and entry wounds on the body meant that `A` had in fact fired from the rear of the car with a clear view of Mr Jordan.
When challenged with the RUC’s own Code of Conduct, which states that an officer should not open fire on an individual if the officer only suspects that the target is armed, `A` replied:
“The people who wrote this are like your Mr Boyce (forensic expert), they weren’t there that night.”
Recalling his emotions when first informed that Jordan had been unarmed and had not been transporting explosives, he said:
“I knew I was going to have to answer for my actions.”
He denied that he had discussed the shooting with two other HMSU officers as they returned to a police station shortly after the incident.
“That just wasn’t the conversation we were going to have.
“It was obviously a very serious incident and was something which was going to be the subject of an investigation.”
The inquest was told that `A` had failed to mention that he had shot an unarmed man when he wrote an account of his actions that day in his police notebook, simply recording a “serious incident on Falls Road”.
“Yes I had a notebook,” later adding, “but I didn’t make an entry because I didn’t like writing things down which (a) I might lose or (b) might fall into the wrong hands.
“So I kept it as brief as possible.”
The inquest was told that `A` had failed to mention the fact that he had felt his life was in danger during a HMSU briefing which took place at the police station an hour after the shooting.
Despite his HMSU commander instructing him to go home `A` remained in the police station for six hours after the shooting.
“I can’t explain that particular reason why I didn’t want to leave the building,” he said.
Questioned whether he had been in a relaxed state after the shooting, he replied:
“Possibly at the time I thought I was.”
OFFICER ADMITS HE MADE FALSE SHOOT TO KILL STATEMENT
The court was told that `A` had previously been involved in another alleged shoot-to-kill incident 10 years before the Jordan shooting.
On December 12, 1982 `A` had been monitoring radio transmissions during an SSU (predecessor of HMSU) operation which resulted in the shooting dead of INLA men Roddy Carroll and Seamus Grew.
The RUC initially claimed the men’s car had crashed through a roadblock, hitting a police officer, and the two unarmed republicans had been shot dead in the high speed chase which followed.
However, it subsequently emerged they had not crashed through any roadblock or knocked down a policeman, but were shot dead by the SSU while unarmed.
It later emerged that HMSU officers – including `A` had knowingly given false statements to cover up the true events of the killings.
“You were prepared to make false statements and tell whatever lies you were told to do so?” Mr MacDonald said – “That’s correct,” `A` replied.
“That 1982 incident was a complete mistake,” he said.
“We were wrongly directed by senior officers who we thought at the time knew better.”
He added: “I think possibly that possible in fact a lot of that stuff (involving) SSU was in part probably naivety on our part at the time.”
However `A` went on to admit that he would have been prepared to lie if he had been called as a witness during his colleague’s murder trial.
“Yes, if it had continued yes.”
However rejecting Mr MacDonald’s assertion that he had also been prepared to lie about the shooting of Mr Jordan 10 years later, he said:
“My recollection on what happened that night is what I have said previously.”
Dismissing the suggestion that he had shot the unarmed Jordan knowing he posed no threat to his own life, `A` insisted: “I refute that.”
Asked by barrister Turlough Montague QC what his role had been on the day of the shooting, `A` said:
“To prevent a resupply of explosives and munitions and possibly some sort of explosive device being brought into Belfast.”
He said that his unit had been involved in helping with surveillance on a suspected IRA bomb factory at Arizona Street in west Belfast and tracking the movements of a coal lorry and two cars (one driven by Jordan).
Asked to explain how forensic tests indicated that Mr Jordan had in fact been shot in the back – and not in the front as suggested by police statements, `A` said:
“The only way I can explain that is when I was in the process of firing he continued to turn round.”
The court was told that `A` had only previously discharged his weapon on three other occasions during his time with HMSU, but had been heavily been involved in anti-terror operations.
Questioned how many anti-terror arrest operations he’d been involved in during his career, he said: “Over 50 I would imagine. Lots, I really couldn’t put figures on it,” adding that he had been involved in dozens of operations to thwart bomb attacks.
Rejecting the allegation that `A` and his HMSU colleagues had deliberately lied to cover-up the shooting of an unarmed man, he said: “No I think the opposite.”
Adding: “I think if I had been wanting to tell a story or whatever and have every one basically sing off the same hymn sheet, that I would have gone into more detail. But I was confident that my actions, that I didn’t need to explain to other police presence of what my role or what my action was.”
The inquest is expected to conclude next week
With many thanks to: The Detail and Barry McCaffrey for the original story