The Daily Mail reports fresh evidence that may clear Dennis Hutchings, 79, of an attempted murder charge for which he is due to stand trial in February 2020.
Dennis Hutchings is a former Life Guard of the British Army, who is due to stand trial for the alleged attempted murder of then-28 year old, John Pat Cunningham, who was killed during Northern Ireland Troubles in County Tyrone, 1974.
According to the Daily Mail, there is a new witness willing to testify that Mr Hutchings did not murder Cunningham – who is believed to have had a mental age of ‘between 6 and 10’ – but rather that the former British soldier fired ‘warning shots’.
This is the position Mr Hutchings has always maintained.
His solicitor, Philip Barden, argues that the new witness who has recently come to light ‘undermines the police investigation’, and insists that the case should be dismissed.
MPs and former soldiers have expressed fury as the Government’s Overseas Operations Bill – which is still making its way through Parliament – will only protect soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan from prosecution.
This is despite the Good Friday Agreement, which released all prisoners connected with the IRA during the Troubles, regardless of the charges brought against them.
IRA terrorists (both convicted and not convicted) killed many British soldiers, civilians and politicians collectively in England throughout the course of the Troubles.
However, former British soldiers can still still be prosecuted for their actions during the Troubles, such as controversial former paratrooper, ‘Soldier F’.
Mr Hutchings has personally expressed dismay at the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Veterans Minister, Johnny Mercer, at what he perceives as their failure to protect British veterans, in spite of numerous pledges to fight for them.
He said: “I am absolutely disgusted with Boris Johnson and Mercer – and so is every other veteran.
“They should be doing for Northern Ireland veterans what they are doing with the other Bill. The veterans are not asking for a change in the law. We are asking them to include us within the law.”
Conservative MP, Jack Lopresti, raised Mr Hutchings’ case in the Commons, expressing outrage: “It is nothing short of a national disgrace that John Downey, the IRA terrorist responsible for the Hyde Park bombing in 1982, which killed 11 soldiers, received a ‘letter of comfort’ from the Government and his trial collapsed.”
John Ross, a former paratrooper, said: “The prosecutions are disgusting… I was in the Falklands and at least you knew who the enemy was. In Northern Ireland you went out on patrol and you were on edge. There were people hell-bent on killing you.”