Northern Ireland

Vincent McAnespie denies hiding murder bid guns

A man accused of hiding two guns used in an IRA murder attempt almost 30 years ago has denied having anything to do with the incident.

Vincent McAnespie, 47, faces charges over a gun attack on a part-time UDR soldier in June 1981.

He claimed that throughout 1981, he was working in Dublin and only occasionally travelled back to Northern Ireland.

Mr McAnespie is on trial along with Gerry McGeough, who is accused of attempted murder.

The trial has already heard that Mr Brush, who also worked as a postman, was making a delivery to a house north of Aughnacloy, County Tyrone, when he saw a masked gunman stepping out of a shed and shoot at him from about 12 feet.

However, a bullet-proof jacket saved his life and he returned fire with his own pistol, wounding the gunman.

Mr McAnespie from Aghabo Close in Aughnacloy, denies possessing two revolvers and ammunition with intent to endanger life and under suspicious circumstances and a further charge of impeding the apprehension of Terence McGeough by hiding the pistols.

Belfast Crown Court judge Mr Justice Stephens previously heard statements taken from Joseph McCann and his wife Bridget McCann that half an hour after the attack, Mr McAnespie told them he had hidden the guns in a house but warned them they were "under threat not to tell".

On Monday, Mr McAnespie denied ever having such a encounter with the McCanns.

He claimed he and his brother, at the request of their father, moved to Dublin to work in the construction industry at the start of 1981 and that he remained in the Republic until about 2000.

He conceded however that "I can't say if I was or if I wasn't" in Aughnacloy on 13 June 1981.

Prosecution lawyer David McDowell put to Mr McAnespie directly that he had been involved in hiding the weapons and that he had stayed south of the border to avoid being arrested.

Mr McAnespie replied: "I deny that".

Earlier, Mr McGeough's defence lawyer told the judge his client would not be giving evidence on his own behalf and confirmed he had been advised of the potential adverse inferences the judge could draw from his failure to do so.

The trial continues.