A former British soldier has gone on trial charged in connection with the death of Aidan McAnespie, who was shot dead after walking through a British Army checkpoint close to the Tyrone/Monaghan border to attend a GAA match in 1988.

David Holden has admitted firing the fatal shot from a machine gun, but claims it was accidental.

Aidan McAnespie died after one of three high calibre bullets fired from a machine gun at a permanent British army checkpoint ricocheted off the road and hit him in the back.

The 23-year-old was on his way to attend a GAA match and had just walked past the checkpoint in the village of Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone on 21 February, 1988.

Former Grenadier Guardsman David Holden, who was 18 at the time, is charged with manslaughter.

The 52-year-old has admitted firing the shots, but claims his hands were wet and that his finger slipped off the trigger guard and on to the trigger and fired the machine gun accidentally.

A prosecution lawyer told Belfast Crown Court this morning that the public prosecution service does not believe his account of what happened is credible.

Ciaran Murphy QC said nine pounds of pressure was required to fire the machinegun, and that David Holden had told another soldier shortly after the shooting that he had squeezed the trigger.

Even if the gun had been fired accidentally, he told the court that as a professional soldier trained in the use of weapons, David Holden was guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.

Members of Aidan McAnespie's family and supporters attended today's hearing, and outside there were protesters supporting British government plans to end prosecutions of former soldiers for killings during the Troubles.