Ex-soldier too ill to attend attempted murder court hearing

Dennis Hutchings vehemently denies the attempted murder charge
Dennis Hutchings vehemently denies the attempted murder charge

The latest hearing into the alleged attempted murder of a Northern Irish civilian has been postponed because the soldier who stands accused was too unwell.

Dennis Hutchings, 76, had been set to appear during the latest instalment of proceedings against him at Belfast Crown Court on Friday.

John Pat Cunningham

John Pat Cunningham

However, the arraignment hearing did not go ahead, and the Courts Service has now said that it was because of ill-health on the part of the defendant.

The next hearing is set to take place in almost 11 weeks’ time.

Mr Hutchings – who is from Cawsand near to the town of Torpoint in south Cornwall – is accused of attempting to murder John Pat Cunningham in 1974 near to the village of Benburb, between Armagh and Dungannon.

Mr Cunningham was aged 27 when soldiers opened fire on him at a field near his home.

Dennis Hutchings

Dennis Hutchings

In March a judge had said there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the charge of attempted murder – however, the PPS opted to proceed with it in May.

Parliament has previously been told Mr Hutchings “vehemently denies” attempted murder.

The court case is now next listed for mention on September 15.