Soldier to stand trial over Benburb killing forty years ago

A former British soldier is to stand trial following a killing in the North of Ireland forty years ago.

A court bid aimed at stopping the prosecution of a former British soldier has been rejected, amid a political controversy over whether other veterans should be handed an amnesty.

Dismissing a defence application to stay the prosecution of pensioner Dennis Hutchings, a judge in Belfast said he was satisfied the defendant, from Cawsand Torpoint in Cornwall, could receive a fair trial.

Hutchings, a former member of the Life Guards regiment who is now 77 and in ill health, is charged in relation to the fatal shooting of a man with learning difficulties in Co Armagh in 1974.

The killing in contention is that of John Pat Cunningham near Benburb, Co Tyrone on Saturday 15 June 1974.

The Chronology of the early years of ‘the troubles’ events compiled on a daily basis and published by Richard Deutsch and Vivien Magowan – copies of which CL Military Monitoring have archived – records for Sat 15th June:

‘A 22 year old man was shot dead by troops near his home at Carrichaness, near Benburb, Co Tyrone . Security forces said that the man had run out of some bushes and had appeared to be pulling a gun from his pocket. He had been called to halt before a soldier fired on him. No weapon was found at the scene. Mr Malachy Toal, spokesman for the Republican Clubs, said that the man had a mental age of about ten years and was terrified of soldiers. Detectives from the RUC station in Armagh town began an investigation into the circumstances of the shooting. Later, Mr Austin Currie AM said he would be asking the British government to hold an independent enquiry into the man’s death’.

Relatives including the nephew of Mr Cunningham (Charlie Agnew – pictured) had campaigned for decades to have the murder investigated

Related links:

Irish News:

https://www.irishnews.com/news/northernirelandnews/2018/05/10/news/former-british-soldier-dennis-hutchings-to-stand-trial-over-john-pat-cunningham-killing-1326647/

Journal ie:

http://www.thejournal.ie/john-pat-cunningham-investigation-1981616-Mar2015/

Image: Charlie Agnew nephew of the dead man.

Bernard Moffatt

pp Celtic League Military Monitoring

May 11th 2018

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