Former British soldier pleads not guilty to attempted murder during Troubles

A former British soldier has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder of a man with learning difficulties during the conflict in Northern Ireland.

Dennis Hutchings, 78, a former member of the Life Guards regiment, is due to stand trial in Belfast in March in relation to the fatal shooting in 1974.

Hutchings wore a suit as he appeared via video link before the crown court in Belfast for a short arraignment hearing on Thursday.

John Pat Cunningham, 27, who had learning difficulties, was shot in the back as he ran away from an Army patrol near Benburb, County Tyrone.

Hutchings, from Cawsand in Cornwall, pleaded not guilty to two charges of attempted murder and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.

His trial will begin on March 9, Mr Justice Adrian Colton said.

A preliminary hearing was scheduled for November 4, when the court will consider legal issues surrounding the disclosure of evidence and expert testimony, the judge said.

He released the accused on continuing bail and excused him from attending the next hearing.

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