Northern Ireland news

British soldier Dennis Hutchings trial to be three-day week

Former British soldier Dennis Hutchings

The Belfast trial in March of former British soldier Dennis Hutchings for the attempted murder of a vulnerable man over 40 years ago, will initially sit three days per week, while the 78-year-old receives hospital treatment on other days.

Defence counsel Ian Turkington told the Crown Court today that while the "medical picture" of the former member of the Life Guards has not changed, he will be available to stand trial then.

Mr Turkington, who previously told the court that medical reports on Mr Hutchings made for "rather grim reading", said that arrangements had been made for the former soldier to receive dialysis here during the length of the non-jury Diplock style trail, listed to start on March 9.

Mr Hutchings, from Cawsand, Cornwall, is accused of the attempted murder on June 15, 1974, of John Patrick Cunningham, shot in the back with an Army SLR rifle in a field on the outskirts of Benburb in Co Tyrone.

John Pat Cunningham who was shot dead by the British Army in 1974 at Benburb, County Armagh

He is further accused of "unlawfully and maliciously attempting to cause grievous bodily harm to John Patrick Cunningham with intent to do him grievous bodily harm''.

Mr Justice Colton who ordered that any further medical reports relied upon by the defence should be lodged with the court by February, said he would review the case then.

Previous court hearing have heard that Mr Hutchings is suffering from "acute renal failure'' and would spend the rest of his life on dialysis.

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Northern Ireland news