A former soldier is to stand trial on a charge arising from the death of a vulnerable man shot dead by the Army over four decades ago, it has been confirmed.Dennis Hutchings, who is now 76, was excused from attending Belfast Crown Court on Monday, where one of Northern Ireland’s most senior judges gave his ruling on a ‘no bill’ application lodged by the ex-soldier’s legal team and revealed the case against the pensioner will proceed.
He was fatally wounded in a field on Carrickaness Road, as he ran away from soldiers who stopped their Land Rover in the area and followed him into the field.
During the ‘no bill’ hearing which was held earlier this month, the court heard two soldiers – Hutchings who in court was described as Soldier A, and a second man referred to as Soldier B – fired their SLR rifles during the incident, and that a total of five shots were discharged.
It has never been established who fired the fatal bullet that hit Mr Cunningham in the back, and it is this point that prompted Hutchings’ legal team to argue that “no reasonable jury could convict” either Soldier A or or the now deceased Soldier B as the one who fired the fatal shot.
Accepting the case against Hutchings was “circumstantial”, Mr Justice Treacy said that after “careful consideration” of the arguments made by both the Crown and defence, and having “closely reviewed” the case, the evidence disclosed indicated a case sufficient to justify putting the defendant on trial for the offence of attempted murder.
The judge added he was satisfied a reasonable jury could, during the course of a trial, reach an adverse inference that Hutchings intended to unlawfully kill the deceased.
Ian Turkington, representing Hutchings, revealed he will be launching judicial review proceedings in a bid to allow the trial to be held with a jury – and not a Diplock non-jury trial.
NWN: This is disgraceful. No wonder we can't get anyone to join up for the armed forces anymore. All the IRA terrorists are in government over in Northern Ireland now, with their 'pardons' issued by Tony Blair in their pockets. The ex- Forces community will be mobilising to support this fellow.
This is why Dennis Hutchings and other's are being persecuted .............check out the date on the SPEARHEAD issue.