Guardsman Holden Trial Day 6

Updated: Apr 13

Today the court heard that Guardsman Holden contends he had accidentally squeezed the trigger when moving the gun from right to left in the observation slit.

On Monday, the court considered how much training Holden had received at the time of the fatal shooting.

It heard that Holden had achieved “skilled”, the minimum standard for deployment, in weapons handling training a few days before the incident.

Holden’s defence barrister told the court it is their case it was Holden’s first day doing sangar duty, adding his client had no relevant experience working in a sangar with a machine gun.

The barrister also described some soldiers on duty in Northern Ireland in 1988 as having been “very young”, pointing out his client was just 18 and had only recently had been put on operational duties.

The court heard an assessment of Holden in March 1987 found he was “quite slow to catch on to weapons training”, and “did well” to pass his personal weapon test.

The defence barrister told the court: “He fired a general-purpose machine gun (GPMG) on a very limited number of occasions in England when he was very young. He had never fired a GPMG from a pintle point, he had never fired within a sangar situation, either in training or anything else … all of his training related to when he was in the prone position, firing on a range at 100, 200, 300 and 400 metres.”

A former major in the Grenadier Guards, Aubrey Fletcher, appeared as a witness.

He was the officer commanding of the company Holden was part of, and in 1988 he provided a statement around the death of Mr McAnespie.

Holden joined the Army in October 1986, and underwent all aspects of training to July 1987, which included training on a number of guns, of which a general purpose machine gun was one.

Mr Fletcher described Holden as not someone he knew particularly well, adding that he had neither appeared before him for a disciplinary nor for excellence.

Today members of VASU NORTHERN IRELAND BRANCH braved the coldness to show a continued presence of support at Belfast Crown Court well done all involved .


Todays proceedings where brought to a close early .

The trial resumes on 25th April .