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Former soldier to go on trial for shooting of county Armagh man

A former soldier will stand trial for the 1974 attempted murder of a county Armagh man.

John Pat Cunningham died after members of an Army patrol opened fire in Benburb on Saturday, June 15, 1974.

The 27-year-old was seen as vulnerable and had a mental age of between five and 10 years. He was shot three times as he ran from the soldiers.

Two years ago the family received an apology from the Ministry of Defence but expressed anger that none of the troops had been disciplined.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) this morning said Dennis Hutchings, 74, from New Road, Cawsand, Torpoint in Cornwall, would be prosecuted.

Murder scene at Carrickaness Road, in 1974.

Murder scene at Carrickaness Road, in 1974.

Mr Hutchings, who is not accused of the murder, was originally charged by detectives in April.

The decision to prosecute Mr Hutchings was confirmed at Armagh Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday morning.

The BBC reports that a prosecutor told Armagh magistrates’ court that “we have concluded that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and that the test for prosecution is met”.

“There is a target date and I am very mindful of that. That date cannot be met, however significant progress has been made,” a prosecutor told the court.


A new investigation into Mr Cunningham’s death was launched in 2013 after the director of public prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, requested a fresh examination of the circumstances the shooting.

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