Tomorrow will be Dennis Hutchings’ funeral in Northern Ireland. Bikers are expected to join the procession, while serving British Army soldiers and their coffins will transport him.

After contracting Covid-19, Mr Hutchings was diagnosed with the disease in Belfast. He was about to stand trial for a shooting in County Tyrone that killed his wife in 1974.

He died alone at the hospital in October 18. This led to concerns among unionist politicians that he had allowed his legal case to move forward.

Funeral for former Life Guards Regiment member from Cornwall, will take place at St Andrew’s Church Plymouth tomorrow morning.

The cortege is expected to include bikers on its trip to Plymouth. At 12pm, the rendezvous point will be Marsh Mills east of Plymouth on the A38.

Dennis Hutchings waves as he arrives at Laganside Court in Belfast on October 4 this year

Dennis Hutchings makes waves when he arrives at Laganside Court, Belfast, on October 4, this year

Mr Hutchings (pictured in 1978) said he was determined to clear his name over the incident

Pictured in 1978, Mr Hutchings stated that he wanted to clean his name after the incident.

The riders are being organised by Rolling Thunder UK – and flags are permitted but the family have requested no political slogans, speeches, or banners on the day.

This service will broadcast live on the internet for anyone who is unable to be there.

Dennis Hutchings telling trial that he had fired “air shots”

Dennis Hutchings, a victim of a tragic shooting in County Tyrone back in 1974 was to be tried in Belfast.

A former soldier of the Life Guards Regiment of Cornwall had pleaded guilty to attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham, 27 years old.

In 1974, Mr Cunningham ran from an Army patrol in a field close to Benburb and was gunned down.

According to people who knew him, he was a young man with a strong fear of the soldiers and had the mentality of a child.

The case of Mr Hutchings has been the center of attention for many years, as several other cases were filed against veterans on grounds of deaths that occurred during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

Because Mr Hutchings was suffering from kidney disease, the court had only been sitting three days per week in order to allow him to receive dialysis between hearings.

Philip Barden, his solicitor, stated that Mr Hutchings would not have testified against him at the trial. He said Mr Cunningham had shot ‘air shots’, and that he didn’t shoot Mr Cunningham.

He served 26 years in the British Army. When the Troubles were at its worst, he served five tours in Northern Ireland.

Over the events that occurred during the 1970s, the ex-captain major was cleared two times. Retired soldier is again charged with attempted murder, despite the absence of new evidence, witnesses or forensic leads.

While he was in Belfast to testify, he died at Mater Hospital. The case was rescheduled for three weeks due to his health. 

Following the service, Mr Hutchings’s relatives will go for a beer locally before heading back to Cawsand for an exclusive event.

Unionist politicians had questions about Mr Hutchings’ death, as he was originally from Cawsand.

He had plead not guilty in the attempted murder case against John Pat Cunningham (27 years old).

The court was not able to hear Mr Hutchings’ dialysis appointments because he had kidney disease.

Since then, the case of his son has been the focal point of media attention. A number of prosecutions have been filed against other veterans in connection with deaths during Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

Philip Barden of law firm Devonshires was his lawyer and he said that he had always wanted to clear his names.

Barden also demanded that the Government enact an Act of Limitations on Troubles Prosecutions in Northern Ireland. This should be called ‘Dennis’s Law’.

According to Mr Barden, Mr Hutchings would have testified at Mr Cunningham’s trial that he didn’t shoot Mr Cunningham but had only fired “air shots”.

While in Belfast to testify, Mr Hutchings was taken to the Mater Hospital. Due to Hutchings’s health, the trial was adjourned three weeks earlier.

There were no initial plans to have regimental pallbearers at the funeral because they are not provided by the MoD for retiree service personnel, unless there’s a request.

But veterans are entitled to a regimental trumpeter – and his relatives lodged a formal request for members of his former regiment, the Life Guards, to attend.

On Wednesday last week, an Army spokesperson stated: “Mr Hutchings has served for many decades with great dignity and diligence. He is a man of courage. 

“His passing is a tragedy personal for his family, regimental families and friends. We offer our condolences for all who loved and supported him.

The Army was approached informally to be a bearer party at the Friday October 29 funeral; this request was fulfilled according to policy.

Mr Hutchings is pictured attending Royal Ascot with his partner of 25 years, Kim Devonshire

Photo of Mr Hutchings attending Royal Ascot together with Kim Devonshire (his partner for 25 years).

Mr Hutchings's supporters stand with a banner outside Belfast Crown Court on October 18

On October 18, Mr Hutchings’s supporters gathered to support him with a banner in front of Belfast Crown Court.

The Army today supported Mr Hutchings request as a tribute to his service. He will have a funeral with his old regiment’s trumpeter and bearer party.

Solicitor urges ‘Dennis’s Law’ for an end to the historical prosecution of veterans

After Dennis Hutchings, an Army veteran was killed in a murder trial, the solicitor representing Hutchings urged the Government not to prosecute veterans for historical crimes.

Philip Barden, Mr Hutchings’s solicitor said that he hopes that the Government will now pass a statute of limitations for Troubles prosecutions within Northern Ireland. He suggested this law should be called ‘Dennis Law.

Devonshires lawyer Mr Barden said that Dennis Hutchings was his friend for 10 years. On Monday, he died. Here is his final wish for me to speak on his behalf.

“I wish that the government will now pass a statute that limits the shameful persecution of Army veterans in Northern Ireland. Dennis’ Law is the name that should be given to this law, since it’s what he fought and sacrificed for.

The Government revealed plans in July to establish a statute that would prohibit all Troubles-related prosecutions up until April 1998. 

Although all are welcome at the church service, they request that no political message be used.

The family released a statement October 27, stating that they were aware of the overwhelming interest shown by those who attended Dennis’ funeral.

“The family would like to thank everyone for their support throughout the years. They are very grateful and look forward to hosting as many people in Plymouth as possible on November 11.

All are invited. Banners and flags are allowed, but banners are prohibited. No political speeches, slogans or banners are allowed on this day.

The Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service supported the decision to bring Mr Hutchings in court over the shooting on October 19.

The incident occurred as Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, challenged the prosecution over the new and convincing evidence that led to his trial.

Michael Agnew was the deputy director for public prosecutions. He stated that “The PPS decision not to prosecute Mr Hutchings in connection with attempted murder stemmed from an impartial and independent assessment of the case.”

“The prosecution test requires that we consider whether there is a realistic prospect of conviction, and if so, is prosecution in the public’s best interests.

“A review of an earlier no prosecution decision doesn’t require new evidence. However, this police investigation resulted into a file being submitted by the PPS that included some evidence previously unavailable.

“In the course the proceedings there were rulings made by High Court judges that Mr Hutchings’ evidence was sufficient and that proceedings weren’t an abuse of procedure.”

The funeral will take place tomorrow from 1pm at St Andrew's Church in Plymouth, Devon

Tomorrow’s funeral will be held at St Andrew’s Church, Plymouth, Devon.

British Army veteran Dennis Hutchings is pictured far right in this photo in Germany in 1960

Dennis Hutchings, an Army veteran from Britain is seen far right in this 1960 photo of Germany.

Agnew stated that the PPS had recognized concerns from some quarters about the decision not to prosecute.

Dennis Hutchings, Troubles Veteran, receives a military funeral 

Last week, the Ministry of Defence reacted to its refusal of Dennis Hutchings, a Troubles veteran, carrying his coffin.

Hutchings’ supporters, who were on trial in Belfast for a 1974 fatal shooting that resulted in his death, requested the Life Guards to be his pallbearers on Remembrance Day.

The MoD finally caved to the pressure on November 1 and offered military pallbearers. It stated that Mr Hutchings’ service had been ‘with great dignity and diligence’.

Initial requests for permission to Mr Hutchings’ former Major had been denied by officials.

But, Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, was a Scots Guards veteran and promised to “find out who stopped” the plans.

Johnny Mercer (Conservative MP) accompanied Mr Hutchings, from Cornwall, to Belfast’s trial.

“He was an honest man who served Northern Ireland proudly.

John Hutchings (48), said his father John: “I’m absolutely overwhelmed and thrilled that the Life Guards provide these pallbearers.”

He stated that he would send his deepest sympathy to the Hutchings family, friends, and to acknowledge their loss.

“However, if a crime is serious like attempted murder, prosecution will be generally in the public’s best interest.”

“Our thoughts are also with John Pat Cunningham’s loved ones, who have been waiting for decades to see the due process happen.

In 1974, Mr Cunningham ran from an Army Patrol in a field close to Benburb in Co Tyrone. He was then shot and killed.

According to people who knew him, he was a young man with a strong fear of the soldiers and had the mentality of a child.

To the news of the passing of Mr Hutchings, his family stated that they wanted to express their condolences and add that the family should have time to grieve.

They stated that the family would respond more fully to questions surrounding Dennis Hutchings’ prosecution when the appropriate time comes.

Johnny Mercer was a veteran minister who tweeted last month his sorrow at the passing of his friend.

He accompanied Hutchings several times to court during the trial.

Downing Street stated that the “tragic” case showed the difficulties of trying to pursue historical claims through the courts.

Official spokesperson for the Prime Minister said that he offered his condolences to Dennis Hutchings’ family, friends, and loved ones.

“The Ministry of Defence provided legal support and pastoral care to Mr Hutchings during his trial, which will be continued to the Hutchings family.”

According to the spokesman, he said that ‘it is not my job to comment on court proceedings’. However, he added that “this tragic case” shows that criminal justice isn’t working broadly and that we have committed to creating new legislation that will bring more certainty to all communities, as well as the families and veterans of the victims.

The Government revealed plans in July to establish a statute that would prohibit all Troubles-related prosecutions up until April 1998.