Ex-British Army soldier, 75, quizzed 25 times by police

An elderly former serviceman was interrogated 25 times by police investigating the death of a man with learning difficulties more than 40 years ago.  

Frail Dennis Hutchings, 75, was subjected to 84 and a half hours in police custody before he charged with attempted murder. 

The former army vet was questioned more than ten times over 11 hours when police launched a fresh investigation into the death of John-Pat Cunningham in 2013. 

Hutchings pictured in 1968 during his days in the Army

Dennis Hutchings, 75, pictured left now and right in 1968 during his Army days, will not face an attempted murder charge over the killing of an IRA suspect more than 40 years ago

Great-grandfather Mr Hutchings, centre,  served 26 years in the Life Guards with distinction. Pictured, left in 1968 and right, with fellow warrant officers in 1978

Hutchings was on military patrol searching for an armed IRA suspect in 1974 when John-Pat, 27, was mistakenly shot. 

He had ran away across a field in Co Armagh before the soldiers opened fire. It has not been established who shot Cunningham but Hutchings was one of two soldiers at the scene.

It later emerged the victim was an innocent member of the public who was afraid of uniforms and had the mental age of a child between six and ten. 

A hearing today at Belfast crown court will decide whether Hutchings will faces a jury or a judge-only trial.

He was charged with attempted murder in 2015 over the death of John Pat Cunningham, 27, in 1974. 

Despite no new evidence, no living witnesses and the loss of key forensic evidence, Hutchings now faces jail if convicted.

He was one of two soldiers – the other now dead – who shot at Cunningham mistakenly thinking he was an IRA suspect. 

After two probes Hutchings was told the matter was closed and he would not face charges.

But after files were passed to Northern Ireland’s Legacy Investigations Branch he was arrested in Cornwall.  

Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk