A former British soldier charged with the attempted murder of a special needs man shot dead in County Tyrone in 1974 attended a right-wing rally in London last week despite claiming that he was too ill to attend court hearings in Belfast.
Dennis Hutchings, who recently pleaded not guilty by video link to the attempted murder of John Patrick Cunningham in County Tyrone, lives in from Cornwall but appeared in London to take part in the demonstration.
The former soldier had been excused by the court from travelling from his home to Belfast due to ill health.
He denies the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham, who was shot in the back as he ran away from an British Army patrol near Benburb, County Tyrone.
Mr Cunningham, whose mental age was between six and 10 years, was shot in the back as he fled in terror across fields towards his home. An inquiry into the killing confirmed that Mr Cunningham had an inherent fear of men in uniform and armoured vehicles.
Hutchings this week waved to loyalist supporters from the top of an armoured personnel carrier during a rally in support of ‘Soldier F’, another British soldier facing trial for killing four innocent civilians.
As the cases advances, scores of banners and flags have appeared across the north of Ireland and outside British Army bases across Britain as British military figures joined with unionists and loyalists to lend their support to the former soldiers.
Hutchings was formally arraigned on September 27 via video link and excused attendance from a preliminary hearding scheduled for November 4 for health reasons. The trial was listed for March 2020.
It is believed military and intelligence figures in the British establishment are increasingly confident they can avoid prosecution for murder with the support of the current extreme right British government.
There have also been new reports that British military top-brass are seeking to block prosecutions in the case based around ‘Stakeknife’, the British agent in the Provisional IRA who killed a number of republicans on behalf of his handlers. The alleged double-agent has been named in the media as Freddie Scappaticci.
Crown Prosecutors in the Six Countuies are said to be coming under pressure not to bring charges against anyone named in the still unreleased report of an investigation into the killings, known as ‘Operation Kenova’.
According to a report in the Guardian newspaper, there are fears within Britain’s political-military establishment that prosecutions would expose top intelligence agents and the murders they carried out when running operations against the IRA.
But even if the prosecutions are spiked, the embarrassing truth should ultimately emerge, according to the report. “A full report of Operation Kenova’s finding will be published at the conclusion of all legal proceedings,” it said, quoting a spokesperson for the investigation.