The killing of John Pat Cunningham in 1974

In The News podcast: Former British soldier Dennis Hutchings, buried on Thursday, faced trial

British army veteran Dennis Hutchings arriving at Laganside Courts in Belfast for his trial in October. Photograph: Mark Marlowe/PA Wire

British army veteran Dennis Hutchings arriving at Laganside Courts in Belfast for his trial in October. Photograph: Mark Marlowe/PA Wire

 

Former British soldier Dennis Hutchings was buried on Thursday with full military honours and applause.

The 80-year-old died in Belfast after contracting Covid-19 while he was in the city to face trial for his involvement in the killing of John Pat Cunningham in 1974.

Mr Cunningham, who was 27, was a vulnerable adult with learning difficulties and a fear of soldiers.

John Pat Cunningham was 27 was he was shot dead in Benburb on June 15th, 1974. Photograph: Collect image from Pacemaker
John Pat Cunningham was 27 was he was shot dead in Benburb on June 15th, 1974. Photograph: Collect image from Pacemaker

Before his death Mr Hutchings had become a figurehead for the campaign backing the UK government’s controversial proposals to introduce a statute of limitations for Troubles-era crimes.

But in that debate John Pat Cunningham’s name has largely been forgotten, according to his nephew Charlie Agnew.

On today’s podcast, Mr Agnew tells Conor Pope that his uncle was the only real victim in this decades-old tragedy.

And Northern Editor Freya McClements explains the story of John Pat Cunningham and Dennis Hutchings and how the handling of legacy crimes has become a toxic issue in Northern Ireland and in British politics.

You can listen to the podcast here:

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