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british army

Military funeral granted for Dennis Hutchings, who died while on trial over Troubles shooting

Hutchings died while on trial over the fatal shooting of John Pat Cunningham in 1974.

THE UK’S MINISTRY of Defence has agreed to provide pallbearers at the funeral of former soldier Dennis Hutchings.

The 80-year-old died in Belfast after contracting Covid-19 while he was in the city to face trial over a fatal shooting incident in Co Tyrone in 1974.

There were originally no plans for regimental pallbearers at his funeral as the ministry does not provide them for retired service personnel unless there is a formal request.

However, veterans are entitled to a regimental trumpeter.

It is understood that Hutchings’ family lodged a formal request last Friday for members of his former regiment, the Life Guards, to attend.

A British Army spokesman said today: “Mr Hutchings served for many years with great dignity, diligence and courage. His passing is a personal tragedy for his family, regimental family and his friends, and we extend our sincere condolences to all that knew and cared for him.

“The Army was formally approached to provide a bearer party for the funeral on Friday; this request was actioned in line with policy.

“As a mark of respect to Mr Hutchings his service and his family, the decision was made today by the Army to support the request. His former regiment will provide a bearer party and trumpeter at his funeral.”

Hutchings’ funeral will take place at St Andrew’s Church in Plymouth on Thursday 11 November, which is also Remembrance Day in the UK.

Rolling Thunder UK motorbikes will accompany his coffin as it makes its way through the Devon city.

His family will later hold a private event in Cornwall.

They have said all are welcome to attend the service in Plymouth but have requested there is no political messaging.

Hutchings’s death prompted questions by unionist politicians over the decision to prosecute him almost 50 years later.

But Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service defended the decision to prosecute the British Army veteran over the shooting.

The former soldier had pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham and his solicitor, Philip Barden, said he had wanted to clear his name.

Cunningham was 27-years-old when he was shot dead as he ran away from an Army patrol across a field near the village of Benburb in Tyrone.

His case had become the focus of attention in recent years as a number of other prosecutions were announced against veterans over deaths which took place during the Troubles.

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