Dennis Hutchings faces trial for Cunningham shooting

Northern Ireland

UK NEWS / Northern Ireland 9 Views comments

Dennis Hutchings faces trial for Cunningham shooting

  • 20 March 2017
  • From the section Northern Ireland
Dennis HutchingsImage copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Dennis Hutchings, 74, was originally charged by detectives last April

A former soldier will be prosecuted for the attempted murder of a man in Northern Ireland in 1974.

John Pat Cunningham, who had learning difficulties, was shot dead by an Army patrol in County Armagh. He was 27.

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

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

The charge was subject to review by the PPS, which has now been completed.

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

A preliminary inquiry had been scheduled for 15 December 15 but the PPS said that date could no longer be met.

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

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption John Pat Cunningham was shot dead by an Army patrol in County Armagh in 1974

Earlier, PPS assistant director Michael Agnew said: "The PPS has carried out a careful examination of all of the available evidence and information in this case.

"We have concluded that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and that the test for prosecution is met."

Mr Cunningham, who had the mental age of a child aged between six and 10, had a fear of men in uniform and was apparently running away from an Army patrol when he was killed close to Benburb, a village on the border between counties Armagh and Tyrone.

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.