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Dennis Hutchings: Former soldier on trial over 1974 fatal shooting in Benburb dies in hospital

Belfast Crown Court was informed on Monday that Mr Hutchings had contracted Covid-19

Murder scene at Carrickaness Road, in 1974.

The former soldier on trial following the shooting dead by the British Army of a man in Benburb in 1974 has died.

Dennis Hutchings, who was 80 years of age, passed away on Monday evening.

Twenty-seven-year-old John Pat Cunningham, who had learning difficulties, was shot in the back as he ran away from an Army patrol on the Carrickaness Road in Benburb on June 15, 1974.

Dennis Hutchings, a former member of the Life Guards regiment, had pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and GBH with intent in September 2019.

Belfast Crown Court was informed on Monday that Mr Hutchings had contracted Covid-19.
Proceedings were adjourned for three weeks after the court was informed of the former soldier’s positive test.

However, it has been reported tonight (Monday) evening that Mr Hutchings – who had underlying health conditions – had died.

The Northern Ireland Veterans Movement, via social media, confirmed: “It is with deep regret and with the permission of his son John Hutchings that we sadly report that our brave friend Regimental Corporal Major Dennis Hutchings passed away in the Mater Hospital this evening. No further detail are known at this time.

“We ask that everyone give the Hutchings family space at this time and to respect their privacy while they come to terms with this tragic news. Further details will be posted at a later date. Rest in peace dear friend.”

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart – pictured with Mr Hutchings – has expressed her sympathy to the family.

The DUP representative said: ““My deepest sympathy is with the Hutchings family, Dennis’ friends and those he served alongside so bravely.

“This is a huge personal loss to them and they are in my thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

“Dennis should have been at home with his family to see out his remaining days in peace, surrounded by those who loved him and cared for him throughout his illness.

“Instead the relentless pursuit against him led him to a court room in Belfast, for a trumped up charge for which there was no new compelling evidence. Those behind this must answer for their actions.”

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