A British Army veteran accused of fatally shooting a man in Northern Ireland during the Troubles almost 50 years ago died last night after catching Covid midway through the controversial trial.
Dennis Hutchings, 80, was suffering from terminal kidney failure and heart disease when he flew to Belfast this month to face a judge-only trial, but said he was determined to clear his name over the alleged attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham in County Tyrone in 1974.
His case was one of two ongoing prosecutions of Northern Ireland veterans who served during the Troubles despite government plans announced in the summer to end all criminal and civil cases relating to deaths during the 30-year conflict. The proposals are yet to be implemented and were met with fierce backlash on both sides of Northern Ireland’s political divide.
The veteran sat in the dock in Belfast on alternate days so he could receive gruelling kidney dialysis treatment. Over the weekend, he contracted Covid, and the trial had been adjourned for three weeks. However, last night he was rushed to hospital in an ambulance after complaining that he was struggling to breathe. His condition deteriorated and he later died.
Philip Barden, Mr Hutchings’s solicitor, said the rigour of forcing the army veteran to stand trial had ‘killed him’, The Telegraph reported.