Trial of British army veteran Dennis Hutchings over Troubles death to begin

ireland
Trial Of British Army Veteran Dennis Hutchings Over Troubles Death To Begin Trial Of British Army Veteran Dennis Hutchings Over Troubles Death To Begin
Dennis Hutchings, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By David Young, PA

The trial of a British army veteran on charges related to a fatal shooting in Northern Ireland during the Troubles is set to begin.

Dennis Hutchings, 80, a former member of the Life Guards regiment, has pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham in Co Tyrone in 1974. He also denies a count of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.

Mr Cunningham, a 27-year-old man with learning difficulties, was shot dead as he ran away from an army patrol near Benburb.

Mr Hutchings, from Cawsand in Cornwall, is a high profile campaigner against the prosecution of military veterans who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Dennis Hutchings, left, has been at the forefront of a campaign calling for an end to prosecutions of veterans who served during the Troubles (PA)

The pensioner is suffering from kidney disease and the trial at Belfast Crown Court will only sit three days a week to enable him to undergo dialysis treatment between hearings.

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In 2019, Mr Hutchings lost a Supreme Court bid to have the trial heard by a jury.

The non-jury trial in Belfast will be presided over by Mr Justice O’Hara.

It had originally been scheduled to commence in March 2020 but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The trial is taking place amid ongoing political controversy over UK government plans to end any future prosecutions related to the Troubles.

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