Justice denied as killer soldier ‘dies from Covid’

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The British soldier on trial for the killing of John Pat Cunningham, Dennis Hutchings, is reported to have died this evening in a Belfast hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.

Hutchings had been on trial for the cold-blooded killing of 27-year-old vulnerable adult John Pat Cunningham, shot in the back as he ran away from a British Army patrol near Benburb, County Tyrone in 1974.

The trial was suspended earlier today after defence lawyers said their client had tested positive on Saturday for the disease.

Although receiving dialysis, Hutchings, aged 79, had appeared in good health as he flew in for the start of the trial two weeks ago.

The high profile former soldier had faced charges that his actions in the killing contravened several of the lethal force deployment rules for the British Army, including using the least force possible and firing the minimal number of shots needed.

His reported death has robbed another family of justice, the third campaign by families of victims of British soldiers to be frustrated in recent months.

In May, the murder trial of two British soldiers for shooting unarmed Official IRA Volunteer Joe McCann in the back was brought to halt after doubts were raised over the legality of their questioning in 1972.

And in July, the prosecutions of two British soldiers involved in the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre of 14 innocent civilians in Derry were dropped after prosecutors said their statements would also likely be ruled inadmissible at trial.

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