David Holden sentenced for killing of Aidan McAnespie

A BROTHER of Co Tyrone man Aidan McAnespie has said his family was “dragged” through the courts for years by the British soldier convicted of his manslaughter.

Sean McAnespie was speaking after former Grenadier Guardsman David Jonathan Holden (53) was given a three year jail sentence, suspended for the same period, at a Belfast court on Thursday.

Holden was convicted of the offence last November.

Mr McAnespie was shot dead close to a checkpoint at Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone on February 21 1988 as he made his way to Aghaloo GAC’s grounds.

Holden had admitted firing the shot which killed Mr McAnespie but claimed he discharged the weapon by accident because his hands were wet.

Trial judge Mr Justice O’Hara said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Holden was guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

He previously added that Holden had given a “deliberately false account” of what happened.

The former soldier, who was aged 18 at the time when he shot Mr McAnespie, was originally charged with manslaughter in 1988 but this was later dropped.

Mr McAnespie’s brother Sean, speaking after the sentencing, said on Thursday that “nothing takes away from the fact that Mr Holden was found guilty of unlawfully shooting our Aidan”.

Speaking outside court he said the suspended sentence did not take away from the conviction.

“He dragged us through the courts for years,” he said.

“We lost our father and sister in the duration of that. It was like being stopped at the checkpoint every time we came here.”

Mr McAnespie said his family only ever wanted the truth.

“It was like stopping at that checkpoint every time we came here,” he said.

“We weren’t looking for a pound of flesh.

“We were just looking for truth and justice.

“I wouldn’t take away for other families to seek justice.”

Mr McAnespie’s cousin, former Tyrone GAA star Brian Gormley, said the hearing “represents the end of a very long journey for the family in terms of pursuing justice”.

“Most of these events revolved around one day in February when Aidan was shot going through Aughnacloy checkpoint,” he said

“David Holden has been found guilty of the unlawful killing of Aidan McAnespie.”

The family’s solicitor Darragh Mackin, of Phoenix Law, said the McAnespie family has “already served a life sentence for Mr Holden’s criminal actions”.  

“Whilst Mr Holden might today be able to return to his family, as a result of his criminality, the McAnespie family have been deprived of a brother, a son, an uncle, and a best friend,” he added.



Gavin Booth


Peter Corrigan


Darragh Mackin

Litigation Manager

Danielle Cromie

Trainee Solicitor

Sean Dunlea

Legal Executive

Colm Dore


Gavin Booth

Gavin Booth specialises in Actions against the Police, Public Law and Prison Law. In a short time, he has developed a specialist practice in these areas.  He regularly appears in some of the most high-profile actions against the Police cases, prison law and public law challenges in this jurisdiction. 

Gavin has developed a specialist practice acting in legacy cases for those victims who have been bereaved or injured arising out of incidents during the conflict.  

He is currently involved in some of the most high-profile legacy cases emanating from the period commonly referred to as ‘the troubles,’ including the RUC murder of Colum Marks in April 1991, the murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth in 1976, the attack on the Thierafurth Inn Bar in November 1992, and the murders of Dwyane O’Donnell and Thomas Armstrong at Boyle’s Bar in Cappagh in March 1991.

Gavin has appeared in both the Irish Supreme Court and the UK Supreme Court.  In the Irish Supreme Court in YY -v- Minister for Justice, concerning the deportation of an ISIS suspect and in theUK Supreme Court in Re Anthony McIntyre [2019] which challenged the lawfulness of the controversial decision by the police to rely on tapes collected from the Boston College project. Gavin has also secured the largest civil settlement in the Boston College cases in this jurisdiction for the claimants.

Gavin holds an LLM Masters in Human Rights Law and Transitional Justice. Gavin co-authored two reports with Doughty Street Chambers in London. The first report was on the Repeal of the Human Rights Acts in Northern Ireland and the second on the effect of Media Concentration in Ireland. Gavin addressed the European Parliament in Brussels on two occasions.

Outside of work Gavin is also a Director of the Newry Charity Davina’s Ark which specialises in addiction and after care.

Actions against the Police & Public Law

  1. Thierafurth Inn – Collusion in County Down (Re John McEvoy)

In 2016 the then Police Ombudsman Dr. Michael Maguire released his report on Loughinsiand. The report was tasked with looking at issues of Collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and members of the Security forces including the RUC and UDR. The report ultimately concluded that collusion was a significant feature of the murders.  The Report for the first time linked other cases prior to the events at the Heights Bar in Loughinisland including the murder of Jack Kielty in Dundrum, the attempted murder of Peter McCarthy and the attack on the Thierafurth Inn in 1992. Mr John McEvoy challenged the failure of the PSNI to investigate the allegations into his attempted murder at the Thierafurth Inn in 1992 and sought a fresh independent investigation into the not only the events at the Thierafurth Inn, but all the murders associated with this murder gang.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here 

  1. Agent Provocateur Sandy Lynch and others (R -v- Clinton and Armstrong)

In an out of time appeal, Gavin was instructed by the appellants Clinton and Armstrong in successfully overturning the 30-year-old convictions as a result of the fresh evidence that they were entrapped by a state agent (or a covert human intelligence source) acting as an agent provocateur.

 The relevant media footage can be accessed here   

  1. Raymond McCreesh Park (Re Rosaleen Murphy)

The applicant a Newry Pensioner and local resident sought to challenge the decision of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s decision to dispose of Raymond McCreesh Park through their D1 Disposal Process without consultation with the local community.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Boston College tapes (Re Anthony McIntyre)

This was a challenge to the Divisional Courts refusal to allow the applicant a right of appeal in Northern Ireland. The Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear the applicant’s proposed appeal given that the court from which he seeks to appeal declined to certify that a point of law of general public importance was involved in the decision.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Irish Supreme Court in Deportation of ISIS Suspect

In this determination (YY v Minister for Justice & Equality), the Supreme Court granted YY leave for a leapfrog appeal from the High Court decision to allow his deportation to proceed, due to the exceptional circumstances of the case. YY was previously imprisoned for planning terrorist acts—including in Ireland. But, if deported to his home state, he faces the risk of treatment contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (prohibition of torture).

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

The Judgment can be accessed here

  1. RUC Murder of IRA volunteer Colum Marks (Re R. Rooney)

In 2016 the then Police Ombudsman History Directorate refused to establish an investigation to the death of Colum Marks in 1991. The Ombudsman claimed he was unable to order a fresh investigation in the absence of new information following a previous review by the RUC at the time. Following media attention in the case a new witness came forward which brought a fresh decision for a new investigation. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Immediate Investigation by PONI into the murder of Colum Marks (Re Roisin Marks)

This matter relates to a Judicial Review application brought by Mrs. Róisin Marks in relation to the delay in investigation by the Police Ombudsman in investigating her son’s death in Downpatrick County Down by the RUC. The Applicant was granted leave to apply for judicial review against the decision of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (“PONI”) contained in the letter dated 20 July 2017, namely that PONI cannot conduct an investigation into the circumstances of Mr Marks death within a reasonable time scale due to the failure of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) to provide sufficient funding to PONI. In 2017, Roisin Marks brought a judicial review challenge against the failure of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (“PONI”) to carry out a timeous investigation into her complaint about the shooting of Colum Marks in Downpatrick in 1991. She also sought to challenge the ongoing failure of the Department of Justice, the Executive Committee, and/or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to provide adequate funding to the PONI to enable it to carry out legacy investigations without undue delay. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. DOJ failure to fund the Office of Police Ombudsman. (Re Brendan Morgan)

This matter relates to an application brought by Mr Brendan Morgan in relation to the failure of the Police Ombudsman to carry out a timeous investigation into his complaint into his attempted murder and the attack on the Thierafurth Inn Bar, in Kilcoo County Down in 1992. Background2.On 27 March 2019, Mr Morgan brought a judicial review challenge against the failure of the Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland (“PONI”) to carry out a timeous investigation. He also sought to challenge the ongoing failure of the Department of Justice to provide adequate funding to the PONI to enable it to carry out legacy investigations without undue delay.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here  

  1. Boston College Tapes (Re Anthony McIntyre)

In 2001 Mr. McIntyre became involved in an academic oral history project known as the “Belfast Project” with the tapes becoming known as the Boston College Tapes. On 3 September 2014 the PSNI requested that the PPS issue an ILOR in respect of McIntyre’s tapes. The ILOR was issued on 9 February 2015 through Mutual Legal Assistance under Section 7(5) of the Crime (International Cooperation) Act 2003 seeking access to McIntyre oral tapes. Mr. McIntyre sought to challenge this.

The Judgment can be accessed here

  1. Further investigation into the murder of Seamus Ludlow (Re Thomas Fox)

This was a challenge to the decision of the Minister for Justice’s ongoing failure or refusal to establish two commissions of investigation pursuant to the Commission of Investigation Act 2004 (“the 2004 Act”) as per the recommendations of the Houses of the Oireachtas and Judge Henry Barron for the further Commissions into the handling of the murder of Seamus Ludlow by An Garda Síochána. In 2020 this matter was brought before the Court of Appeal in Dublin with judgment reserved.

The Judgment can be accessed here

Prison Law

  1. Licence Conditions to extend to ROI  – (Re Gerard McManus (and Keith McConnan)

This was a challenge taken by Mr. McManus from County Donegal and Mr. McConnan from County Louth following their release on licence.  Each of the applicants were subject to licence conditions. These conditions required the applicants to reside in United Kingdom during the period of their licence. Both applicants through these proceedings challenged the refusal to permit them to reside in the Republic of Ireland during their conditions. 

The Judgment can be accessed here.

  1. Right for separated Prisoners to use Internet for Education. (Re Brendan McConville)

This was a challenge brought regarding the prison failure to allow the applicant access to computer facilities whilst in custody for the purposes of completing his degree.  

The Judgment can be accessed here

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Access to the Prison Library (Re Sean McVeigh)

This is a challenge brought against NIPS refusal to allow separated prisoners access to the Prison Library or access to Prison Library books. 

  1. Transfer to separated conditions on safety grounds (Re: Luke O’Neill

The applicant was remanded to Maghaberry Prison on 27 September 2016. Since then he has been seeking admission to the separated landing for Republican prisoners at Roe House. He argues that it is only in these conditions that he will be safe in prison. His transfer to separated conditions was refused by way of a written notice on 26 October 2016.  As a result, he sought to challenge this citing safety concerns for the place he was housed. 

 The Judgment can be accessed here

  1. Failure to properly investigate death threats (Re Luke O’Neill)

Following the matter being remitted by the Court of Appeal back to the trial judge the applicant sought extensive Discovery against the respondents which showed that there was a death threat against the Applicant in the place he was housed. An offer of £50,000 was placed against the applicant and the Prison became aware of this. The Applicant then sought to challenge this for a finding of a breach of Article 2 of ECHR. 

 The Judgment can be accessed here The relevant media footage can be accessed here

  1. Information Sharing between Hospitals and Prisons (Re Michael Larkin).

This is a challenge to the refusal to permit the applicant a period of temporary release to visit his mother in hospital before her death. The Applicant argues that this was in breach of his rights as protected by Article 8 ECHR and was unlawful. The applicant learned in the proceedings that the Trust and the Prison refused to provide the necessary information to allow the correct decision to be made.


Peter Corrigan


Darragh Mackin

Darragh Mackin has been described as ‘a rising star on the international legal scene’ (Irish Times) and a ‘Champion of the Cause’ (The Parchment).  In July 2016, Darragh was the first ever Ireland based Lawyer to be nominated, and in turn to win, an award at the prestigious London Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards.  

He has developed a specialist practice in Human Rights, Public Law, Actions against Public Authorities and International law.  He continues to appear in some of the most complex Inquests and Inquiries in Ireland, acting for 47 of the families in the Stardust Inquest, appearing in the Ballymurphy Inquest, the family of Morgan Barnard who was killed in the Greenville tragedy, and for the victims in the the child abuse Bill Kenneally public inquiry.

He regularly advises individuals and companies both domestically and internationally, with a particular specialism in data protection and privacy.  Darragh recently advises on reputation management and the challenges emanating from the misuse of social media, GDPR, and an individual’s ‘right to be forgotten’ online. 

He has acted in cases at all levels including in the Supreme Courts in London and Dublin, The European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations Special Procedures.  He has acted for both individuals, companies and some of the most well known non-governmental organisations including Amnesty International, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and Extinction Rebellion. He has been instructed and advised on cases all around the World, including the USA, Spain, France, Sri Lanka, Malawi and the Cayman Islands. He also appears on behalf of a number of Basque prisoners currently pending consideration by the European Court of Human Rights.  

Darragh was instructed for the NI Taxi Drivers group which resulted in the payment of £16.7million to NI Taxi Drivers, one of the largest in NI history. He is also currently instructed in a multi million pound claim in the Dublin Commercial Court arising out of the approach by insurance companies to indemnifying hotels during the Covid 19 pandemic.

In addition to practice, Darragh is an associate lecturer of Public Law at the University of Ulster and has delivered a number of guest lectures at Cambridge University, Trinity University, Queens University Belfast, and DCU.   



Sarah Ewart & Amnesty International (The Abortion Litigation)

Darragh has appeared in many of the seminal human rights cases in recent times in Ireland. He acted for Sarah Ewart and Amnesty International to which saw the law changed in respect of abortion in Northern Ireland. Darragh was also labelled The Times ‘Lawyer of the Week for his work on this case.

The Hooded Men (Ireland v UK)

Darragh was instructed by a number of the Hooded Men in the application for revision of the Ireland v United Kingdom 1978 decision by the European Court of Human Rights on torture.  In addition, Darragh acted in the landmark judicial review challenge Re Francis McGuigan to which the Supreme Court determined that the decision not to investigate was unlawful. Following this decision, the Chief Constable formally apologised to the Hooded Men.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here:  CNNRTEBBC, and the Journal

Aidan McAnespie

Darragh is instructed by the family of Aidan McAnespie who was murdered as a result of a shot fired from a British army sanger in 1988.  On June 2018, on foot of an application lodged on behalf of the family, a decision was taken to prosecute David Holden for the killing.  In February 2023, this resulted in the first prosecution of a British Soldier post the Good Friday Agreement.  

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here.

The Judgment can be accessed here:

The Glenanne Series (Re Edward Barnard & Others)

The Glenanne Gang were responsible for more than 120 murders between the years 1972 – 1978 in the area commonly referred to as ‘the murder triangle’.  Darragh initiated Judicial Review Proceedings against the Chief Constable of the PSNI for the failure to conduct an overarching investigation into the allegations of state collusion arising out of the Glenanne Gang murders.  In the seminal case of Re Edward Barnard, the Court of Appeal ruled that it was unlawful not to investigate the evidence of state collusion.  As a result, the independent police team Operation Kenova headed by Jon Boutcher has now been appointed to investigate the state collusion in the 120 murders.   

The relevant media footage can be accessed here.

Loughgall (Re Brigid Hughes)

Instructed by the Loughgall Truth & Justice Campaign and the families bereaved as a result of the shootings at Loughgall on 8th May 1987.  Darragh was instructed before the High Court and Court of Appeal in respect of a decision taken by the Secretary of State that the decision to grant an Inquest into Loughgall was ‘National Security Sensitive’.  In September 2015, the Advocate General announced that a fresh inquest was to be held into the fatal shootings at Loughgall.  As a result of a political stalemate, the necessary funding for the legacy inquest system was withheld.  In an unprecedented decision the Court ruled that the then former first Minister Arlene Foster MLA had acted unlawfully in failing to release the funding and quashed the decision.  After initiating contempt of Court proceedings, the necessary funding was released to the Coronial Service for Legacy Inquests.  

The relevant media footage can be accessed here:

Fergal McFerran – The Brexit Case (‘The Peoples Challenge’ – Gina Miller No.1)

In 2016, Gina Miller initiated legal action challenging whether the Royal Prerogative can override or undo Acts of Parliament.  The challenge arose out of the controversial use of the prerogative to execute Brexit, and to leave the EU.  A group of individuals including two British citizens living in France, a Gibraltarian national, a Welsh citizen and Fergal McFerran, president of NUS-USI formed the ‘peoples challenge’.  Darragh was instructed by Fergal McFerran.  The Supreme Court held by a majority, that the UK Government could not initiate withdrawal from the European Union without an act of parliament.  This lase has been dubbed by legal commentators as one of the most significant constitutional cases of the decade.      

The relevant media footage can be viewed here and here

The Covid 19 Schools Challenge (Re JR105)

Darragh was instructed by the parent of a child who was forced to attend school during the initial phases of the Coronavirus (or Covid 19) pandemic.  It was argued that the child suffered underlying health conditions and therefore any attendance at school would have put her life at risk.  The respondents confirmed that the child no longer had to attend school, and a decision was subsequently issued by the Minister of Education to close all schools in light of covid-19. 

The case was widely reported in the media.  The footage can be viewed herehere and here.

Legacy Pensions (Re Brian Turley [2020])

Darragh acted for the applicant in the landmark challenge to the Executive Office and Secretary of State over their failure to implement and fund the Legacy Victims Pension.  The Court of Appeal ruled that the Executive Office was under a legal duty to fund the Legacy pensions scheme.  

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here.


The Stardust Inquest

Darragh acts for the families bereaved as a result of the tragic fire at the Stardust Nightclub on Valentine’s Day 1981.  In 2019, he made an application to the Attorney General in Dublin for a fresh Inquest into the deaths.  He cited the fact that the investigations to date were inadequate and did not comply with human rights standards.  In a landmark decision, the Attorney General ordered a fresh inquest to which is scheduled to begin in 2021.  Darragh’s involvement in the campaign was described by some commentators as the ‘sea-change’ in the families’ forty year campaign for truth and justice.  

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here:

The Glenanne Gang

Darragh also acts in the ongoing Inquest into the murder of Elizabeth McDonald at the Step Inn, Keady in 1976, in which the Court has been asked to examine the wider systemic allegations of state collusion.  In tandem with the above, Darragh acts in an ongoing group action civil litigation for those families bereaved and injured as a result of the Glenanne Series.      

The relevant media footage can be accessed here

The Hickson Inquiry

Darragh acts for the victims of Ireland’s most notorious paedophile, Bill Kenneally.  In 2018, he secured the opening of a public inquiry into the cover up and failings by the state relating to the activities of Mr Kenneally.  Darragh is now instructed by the victims in the ongoing Inquiry currently being held in Dublin. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here:

The Greenvale Tragedy

Darragh is instructed on behalf of the family of Morgan Barnard in the ongoing proceedings relating to the tragedy at the Greenvale Nightclub on St Patrick’s Day.  He acts for the family in respect of the ongoing criminal proceedings into the police officers who attended at the scene. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here


Ibrahim Halawa

Darragh acted for the Irish Teenager, Ibrahim Halawa, who was detained whilst on holiday in Cairo, Egypt.  Ibrahim was held in detention in excess of 3 years awaiting trial and faced the death penalty had he been convicted.  Darragh acted for Ibrahim in seeking his return to Ireland, making submissions before the EU Parliament, the African Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations.  In October 2017 Ibrahim Halawa was acquitted of all charges before the Egyptian Courts and repatriated to Ireland. 

Media coverage of the UN Intervention is available here.

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and  here

Lisa Smith

Lisa Smith was a former Irish army soldier who travelled to Syria, and was eventually detained by the Turkish authorities as a suspected ISIS fighter.  Darragh acted for Lisa in successfully securing her and her daughter’s repatriation to Ireland.  The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & Counter Terrorism intervened in Lisa’s case.  Lisa was the first alleged ISIS bride ever to be returned to Ireland. 

The relevant media footage can be accessed here and here

Lisa Smith was Darragh was instructed by Lisa and her family in seeking her repatriation to Ireland.  On foot of published concerns by the United Nations, In December 2019 Lisa and her two-year-old daughter were repatriated to Ireland.  

Carles Puigdemont

 In 2018 Darragh was one of the lawyers who travelled to Brussels to meet the then president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont and provided advice and assistance in respect of his ongoing bid against the extradition proceedings issued by the state of Spain. 

The Tamil Litigation v PSNI

Darragh acted in a ground-breaking case in which a Tamil widow against the PSNI as the successor to the RUC for damages as a result of the murder of 10 of her relatives who were massacred by Sri Lankan’s Police in 1986.  The basis of the case arose out of documents uncovered which demonstrated that the RUC had played a role in the training of ‘the Special Task Force’ in Sri Lanka. 

The relevant media footage can be viewed here and here.  The Tamil Guardian also covered the story here.

In addition, Darragh acts for Mr Jeyasundaram, a teacher, who was convicted in Sri Lanka for involvement with the Tamil Tigers.  He challenges the safety of the conviction on the premise that the confession was obtained by torture, and that the trial process lacked the relevant safeguards required under international law.  The relevant media footage can be accessed here.  

Keyu & Others v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs & Another UKSC 2014/0203

This case is more commonly known as the Batang Kali Massacre case.  Darragh acted for the interveners the Pat Finucane Centre & Rights Watch UK, two Non-Governmental Organisations whom are directly involved in ensuring human rights compliance in respect of the legacy of the past. Both interveners sought to make representations to the Court in respect of the applicability of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to life) and its application in the context of ‘the troubles’.  The Attorney General for Northern Ireland also intervened in this case. 

Media coverage of this case is available here


Phil Miller v PSNI (2020)

Darragh acts for the renowned investigative journalist Phil Miller in an appeal against the Information Commissioner to uphold the refusal by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (“PSNI”) to publish a report authored by Jack Morton from 1973, relating to MI5 and the structure of the RUC.

Re Fine Point Films(2019)

Darragh acted for the International media organisations, Index on Censorship and the English PEN in their role in the successful judicial review challenge to a search warrant imposed on two investigative journalists in Northern Ireland.

OH v Google LLP (2019)

Darragh acted for the Plaintiff in one of the first ‘right to be forgotten’ on foot of the Google Spain ruling.  Google conceded and took steps to remove all images and webpages that appeared in respect of our client relating to a previous criminal trial they were involved. 

Facebook Moderators

Darragh was recently instructed to act for a number of individuals in their quest for greater protections for those who are tasked with removing harmful content from Facebook and other social media platforms. He is now instructed in an International Claim seeking compensation for those victims.


Litigation Manager

Danielle Cromie

Trainee Solicitor

Sean Dunlea

Sean Dunlea graduated with an LLB (Hons) in Law from Liverpool John Moores University in 2018. 

Sean is a key player in our Actions Against the Police and Prison Law department.  Our Actions Against the Police department covers a wide range of issues, primarily ensuring that the human rights of those in society are upheld when infringed upon by the various branches of the justice system.   

Sean is an experienced paralegal with a varied background, after graduating he worked in the litigation department of a well-respected top commercial UK Law Firm before specialising in the world of Intellectual Property Law.  Sean has transferred his commercial experience to his human rights and public law practice whereby he continues to utilise his litigation skills and experience in obtaining significant damages and compensation for those clients he represents.   

Sean has appeared at all levels including the County Court and High Court in a multitude of practice areas including litigation, personal injury and medical negligence.    This has resulted in Sean having been instructed in some high value actions including the recent litigation against ‘Planet Fun’ for the accident at the Theme Park in July 2021, a group action as a result of unlawful stop and searches and a wider challenge to the current failure to transfer a prisoner to his home jurisdiction to serve his sentence.   

Legal Executive

Colm Dore

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