Dennis Hutchings Dies At Mater Hospital

Dennis Hutchings, the ex-soldier who had been on trial over a fatal shooting in County Tyrone in 1974, has died at the Mater Hospital in Belfast.

Mr Hutchings (80) – who was from Cornwall and an ex-member of the Life Guards regiment – was undergoing a non-jury trial at Belfast Crown Court, accused of the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham.

Mr Cunningham was shot in the back as he ran from an Army patrol near Benburb, County Tyrone, in 1974. He was 27-years-old when he died.

Mr Hutchings had been unwell throughout the trial, receiving dialysis treatment for kidney disease. The trial had been adjourned for three weeks after Mr Hutchings tested positive for Covid-19.

Mr Hutchings died in Belfast's Mater Hospital on Monday 18 October.
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Commenting on the news of the death, DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said that "serious questions now need answered".

Sir Jeffrey said: "This is desperately sad news. First and foremost our thoughts are with the Hutchings family, his friends and comrades who knew Dennis best.

"Whilst understanding the desire of the Cunningham family for justice, we have consistently challenged those in legal authority who insisted that Dennis stand trial again. He was an 80 year old veteran, in ill-health on dialysis and there was a lack of compelling new evidence.

"There now stands serious questions around those who made the decision that Dennis should stand trial once more. He was honourable. He wanted to clear his name again but was dragged to a court and hounded until his death.

"This is a sad indictment on those who want to rewrite history but also demands serious questions of the Public Prosecution Service about how this trial was deemed to be in the public interest."

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