Home town of ex-soldier Hutchings ‘standing behind him’

Dennis Hutchings served in the Life Guards regiment
Dennis Hutchings served in the Life Guards regiment

The MP for Dennis Hutchings’ home town has said that the community there is fully supportive of him as he awaits the outcome of criminal proceedings relating to his deployment during the Troubles.

Sheryll Murray, Conservative MP for South East Cornwall, said that whilst “her heart goes out” to the family of the civilian who was allegedly unlawfully killed by Mr Hutchings in 1974, the case against him should be dropped.

Her words add to a growing chorus of dismay from politicians about the treatment of the former Life Guards soldier – who marked his 76th birthday last Sunday – ever since it was revealed that the PPS is pressing ahead with an attempted murder charge against him in spite of a judge’s warning that he should only face an attempted grievous bodily harm charge.

A demonstraton was held by ex-soldiers in Belfast this week, partly motivated by his case – READ MORE HERE.

“I’m absolutely appalled at the way my constituent has been treated,” she told the News Letter.

“I do feel that this case has already been looked at twice.

“And Dennis – who is a very sick man, and was just doing his job – for him to be put through this now is absolutely appalling.”

She was referring to the fact that the incident was investigated at the time, and then later revisited by the Historical Enquiries Team in 2011.

In those instances, no charges were brought.

Hutchings – of New Road in Cawsand, close to the town of Torpoint – was arrested again in 2015, and charged the following year with attempted murder of John-Pat Cunningham, 27, on June 15, 1974.

The mentally impaired man was, according to the book ‘Lost Lives’, shot three times whilst running away from an Army patrol near his home at Benburb, near the Tyrone/Armagh county border.

A court heard in March that Hutchings (now the only surviving witness to the incident) has kidney failure.

The issue of his treatment by the legal system has been raised repeatedly in Parliament, which has been told Hutchings “vehemently denies” attempted murder.

“All the way through this trial he’s been very, very poorly,” said Sheryll Murray.

“I think for him to be treated like this is an absolute disgrace. This is a historic legacy case that, in my opinion, should never be investigated again.

“Yes my heart goes out to some of the victims. I fully understand their grief.

“But it’s been looked at twice. And we should have closure. My constituent should be left alone...

“It’s a very small community, and they’re all behind Dennis.

“I just feel he’s been let down by the system.

“He should’ve been allowed to live out the rest of his life in peace, instead of having this sort of thing thrust on him.”