By Ron Howells • 19 October 2021 • 9:45
An ex-soldier who was on trial over a fatal shooting during Northern Ireland’s Troubles has died.
British Army veteran, Dennis Hutchings, 80, had denied attempting to murder and cause grievous bodily harm to John Pat Cunningham. Mr Cunningham, 27, was shot in the back as he ran from an Army patrol near Benburb, County Tyrone, in 1974.
Mr Hutchings’ trial was adjourned for three weeks due to illness and the court heard on Monday that he had tested positive for Covid-19. The non-jury trial had been sitting at Belfast Crown Court for three days a week to allow Mr Hutchings, who had been suffering from kidney disease, to receive dialysis treatment.
Mr Hutchings, from Cawsand in Cornwall, was an ex-member of the Life Guards regiment.
His death is likely to reignite the heated debate over ending the prosecution of Troubles veterans that has been raging for years. Prime Minister Boris Johnson had vowed to end them, but as his Government’s plans would also mean an end to the prosecution of paramilitaries, others had opposed the effective ‘Troubles amnesty’ for equating soldiers with terrorists.
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Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!.
Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.
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