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Former British soldier to face prosecution over Troubles murder

NewsBy Sunday World
John-Pat Cunningham was shot dead as he fled from the patrol
John-Pat Cunningham was shot dead as he fled from the patrol

A former soldier from Cornwall will be prosecuted for the attempted murder of a man with learning difficulties in Northern Ireland more than 40 years ago.

John-Pat Cunningham, 27, was shot dead by an Army patrol in June 1974.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said Dennis Hutchings, 74, from New Road, Cawsand, Torpoint, would be prosecuted.

Hutchings, who is not accused of the murder, was originally charged by detectives in April. It was a holding charge that was subject to review by the PPS.

The PPS said it had now completed a review of the file of evidence.

PPS assistant director Michael Agnew said: "The PPS has carried out a careful examination of all of the available evidence and information in this case. We have concluded that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction and that the test for prosecution is met. "

The decision to prosecute will be outlined to Armagh Magistrates' Court later on Tuesday.

Mr Cunningham, who had the mental age of a child between six and 10, had a fear of men in uniform and was running away from an Army patrol when he was killed close to Benburb, a village on the border between counties Armagh and Tyrone.

The Government apologised for his death two years ago.

A new investigation into Mr Cunningham's death was launched in 2013 after the director of public prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC, requested a fresh examination of the circumstances the shooting.