Hutchings is awaiting trial for the attempted murder of vulnerable adult John Pat Cunningham in 1974 in Benburb. He was challenging the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to hold a non-jury trial. The Supreme Court has rejected this appeal- judgement to follow.
The UK’s highest court give its ruling on Thursday, June 6. Hutchings, 78, a former member of the Life Guards regiment, is charged in relation to the fatal shooting of a John Pat Cunningham, who had learning difficulties.
Giving the court’s unanimous judgment in London on Thursday, Lord Kerr said it was “entirely unsurprising” that prosecutors decided there could be a risk of a biased juror or jury.
The judge said there was “no fundamental right” to have a trial by jury, adding: “The fundamental right is to a fair trial.”
Mr Cunningham was killed in disputed circumstances in Co Armagh in June 1974.
The 27-year-old was shot in the back as he ran away from an Army patrol. His family contend that he ran across a field because he feared men in uniform.
In a statement after the ruling, Kevin Winters of KRW law, which represents his family, said: “This is a welcome judgment from the UK Supreme Court for the family of John Patrick Cunningham.
“It illustrates the importance of the judiciary upholding contested decisions by law officers such as the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
He added: “This will be a fair trial before a judge and will be about justice not retribution.”
More than 40 years on, a case was brought against Mr Hutchings after Northern Ireland’s attorney general asked prosecutors to review the case.
Mr Hutchings, from Cawsand in Cornwall, is due to stand trial in Belfast charged with attempted murder and attempted grievous bodily harm with intent. He denies the charges.
A panel of five Supreme Court justices in London made the ruling on Mr Hutchings’ challenge to a decision by prosecutors that his trial will be heard by a judge alone, rather than by a jury.
The Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland can direct a defendant be tried by a judge alone, in what was formerly known as a Diplock court, where a charged offence was “committed to any extent … as a result of, in connection with or in response to religious or political hostility”.
Prosecutors concluded that, in Mr Hutchings’ case, there was “a risk that the administration of justice might be impaired if the trial were to be conducted with a jury”.
But at a hearing in March, Mr Hutchings’ barrister James Lewis QC said the connection to “sectarian violence as required” by the law was “too remote”.
Gerald Simpson QC, for the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland, however argued Mr Hutchings’ contention that the shooting did not relate to “religious or political hostility” effectively “ignores the reality of the situation which prevailed in Northern Ireland in 1974”.
On the same day as the March hearing, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service announced that one former paratrooper would be charged with two counts of murder and four counts of attempted murder on Bloody Sunday.
The veteran, known as Soldier F, will face charges for the alleged murders of James Wray and William McKinney and the alleged attempted murders of Joseph Friel, Michael Quinn, Joe Mahon and Patrick O’Donnell in Londonderry in 1972.
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph for the original story
THE mother of a 12-year-old girl murdered by the British Army in 1976 was last night described as a woman who “never strayed from the path of dignity, faith and compassion “.
Mary O’Hare, whose daughter Majella was shot twice in the back on her way to church in August 1976, died on Tuesday surrounded by her family. Aged in her late nineties and from the South Armagh village of White cross, she was remembered as a “woman of kindness”. Her death comes more than 40 years after she lost her daughter Majella, who was shot in the back twice by a British Parachute Regiment Solider after she passed a 🇬🇧 British Army checkpoint, on her way to Confessions. (she was only 12-years-of-age maybe she was a real member of the IRA) are you having a fucking laugh??.
He was tried for manslaughter in 1977 (the same year I lost my mother I was only 12-years-of-age) at the time, but was acquitted by Lord Justice Maurice Gibson (A British Judge who sentenced my late father to 12 years in a British Prison.
He was executed along with his wife on the border by the IRA when they blew up their car with a landmine on the 27th of April 1987.
Private Michael Williams of the 3rd Battalion of the regiment claimed he had opened fire on an IRA sniper.
Lord Chief Justice Morgan believed the lies of a paid Perjurer and lier over the word of the family whose innocent daughter was shot twice in the back on her way to Church.
He was tried for manslaughter in 1977 but acquitted by Lord Chief Justice Gibson who accepted there had been a gunman in the area (which was lies and untrue). But in August 2010, the Historical Enquiries Team said it supported the findings of the original RUC investigation which found that Private Williams was not returning fire at an IRA gunman and recommended to prosecutors that he should be charged with manslaughter (even though it was not manslaughter but murder).
In March 2011, Mrs O’Hare received an official apology from the Ministry of Defence – only the second time an opology had been offered for the army’s behavior during The Troubles. The letter corrected the army’s account and acknowledged the soldier’s courtroom explanation was unlikely “.
Mrs O’Hare’s son Michael said at the time that it was “not closure, but we have moved along the way”. Tributes have been paid to Mrs O’Hare following her death, including Labour MP Conor McGuinn, who is originally from Cam Lough. “Mrs O’Hare was a woman of kindness, integrity and most of all a great family friend,” he said.
“She was a quiet leader, and what happened to her and the O’Hare family goes to the heart of dealing with the legacy of the past. When I hear the phrase ‘statute of limitations’ or ‘witch-hunt’ my first thought is about justice for Mrs O’Hare and Majella.
Miami Showband Massacre survivor Stephen Travers wrote on Twitter that “Mary went to her beloved daughter, Majella”. The Pat Finucane Center said: “Sorry to learn of the passing of Mrs O’Hare, mother of Majella O’Hare who was murdered by a British paratrooper in 1976. Our thoughts are with her family.” Funeral mass for Mrs O’Hare is to take place tomorrow at St Malachhy’s Church, Ballymoyer at 11am followed by in St Malachy’s cemetery.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Suzanne McGonagale for the original story.
Loyalist and republican paramilitary groups and the Army may have possessed the weapons most likely used in the Ballymurphy shootings, according to expert witnesses.
An inquest is looking into the shooting dead of 10 people in the area in west Belfast in August 1971.
A report was presented to the court on Wednesday from ballistics experts.
They are acting on behalf of the Coroner’s Service, the Ministry of Defence and the victims’ next of kin.
Ballymurphy shootings: Who were the victims?
Joan Connolly, Noel Phillips, Daniel Teggart, and Joseph Murphy were fatally shot in an area of waste ground near the Henry Taggart base on 9 August 1971, the day that internment without trial was introduced.
It is thought that almost all of the victims were struck by bullets from a rifle, although it is possible that Noel Phillips was not.
He was struck by 9mm bullets, which may have been fired by a military pistol or a submachine gun on semi or automatic fire.
Intelligence reliability challenged
Some of the rifle bullets could be clearly identified as having come from an SLR weapon (self-loading rifle), identical to those issued to British soldiers.
However, the experts quoted police intelligence that such SLR weapons could also have been in the possession of both republican and loyalist paramilitaries at the time.
A barrister for Joan Connolly’s family challenged the reliability of that intelligence.
The question arose of exactly when SLR weapons fell into paramilitary hands.
Turning to the injuries of the victims, the ballistics experts told the court:
Joan Connolly was shot three to four times and a fragment of an SLR round was found in her body
Noel Phillips was shot three to four times, at least twice by 9mm bullets, one of which was recovered from his body
Daniel Teggart was shot eight to 11 times but no bullets were recovered
Joseph Murphy was struck at least once in the thigh and a bullet fragment recovered after an exhumation of his body was of a rifle type, which could have included an SLR
‘No evidence of victims firing weapons’
The experts could not say whether the victims had been moving or static when shot or where the shooters had been located.
They agreed that all the shots could have come from the Henry Taggart Army base but could also have come from several other places, such as the waste ground, Vere Foster school, Springmartin and the Springfield Road.
The experts also agreed that none of the victims had been shot from a range closer than about a metre (3ft 4in).
Three of the victims – Joan Connolly, Noel Phillips and Joseph Murphy – could not have been shot by the kind of Mauser rifle that Witness X – the so-called Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) interlocutor – has claimed was being fired by the loyalist paramilitary group that day.
Witness X has not given oral evidence to the inquest.
The ballistics experts also agreed there was no evidence that any of the victims had been firing weapons, although it was noted that their clothes had not been scientifically examined.
Michael Mansfield QC, the barrister for the family of Noel Phillips, spoke at length with Ann Kiernan, a ballistics expert for the next of kin.
Miss Kiernan used a mannequin and tracking rods to demonstrate to the court the positions of Mr Phillips’ injuries.
She agreed with Mr Mansfield’s suggestion that it was possible that Mr Phillips could have been shot by a pistol held as close as two or more feet away, as he lay face down on the ground with an arm raised.
But she could not discount the possibility that the weapon, either a pistol or a sub machine gun, had been fired from the Henry Taggart base or elsewhere.
The court heard that two other victims, Father Hugh Mullan and Francis Quinn, could have been shot by SLRs.
They died on waste ground near Springfield Park on 9 August 1971.
The evidence came in another agreed note from ballistics experts.
Fr Mullan was shot at least twice by rifle bullets while kneeling or lying down and those bullets could have come from an SLR
Frank Quinn was shot in the head by an SLR bullet, which some experts think may have first passed through Fr Mullan, who was beside him
Frank Quinn could not have been shot by the UVF Mauser rifle described by Witness X
With many thanks to: BBCNI and Will Leitch for the original story
A former paratrooper has broken down in tears at an inquest into the deaths of 10 people in 1971, saying “rogue soldiers” were “out of control” and “shot innocent people”.
The inquest is looking into shootings from 9-11 August, amid disturbances in Ballymurphy sparked by the introduction of internment without trial.
Relatives of the 10 people fatally shot insist none of them was armed or involved in any terrorist activity.
M597 was a member of A company.
He said he was in the Henry Taggart base shortly after an incident in which four people were fatally shot.
Ballymurphy shootings: Who were the victims?
A company is a military unit consisting of scores of soldiers.
M597 told Belfast Coroner’s Court that many of the paratroopers he knew were honest professional soldiers who did the right thing, but that some were “psychopaths” who were dangerous to be around.
He wept briefly as he described seeing three or four bodies in the hall and recalled what the soldiers there told him had happened.
He said the soldiers were on a high, excited, and had clearly enjoyed what they had done.
Soldiers from the Parachute Regiment were based at Henry Taggart Army base
Image caption Soldiers from the Parachute Regiment were based at Henry Taggart Army base
He said they told him that B company officers had lost control, and that the Army would give them cover for whatever they had done.
M597 said they felt they could “shoot anything that gets in the way”.
He said the soldiers made a joke about the bodies and seemed to show no respect for those they had killed.
“It was a joke to them,” he told the court.
Those killed in Ballymurphy included a mother-of-eight and a priest.
M597 also said the B Company soldiers had told him that, in their view, “any man or woman walking the street was in the IRA, or associated with the IRA, and for that reason alone could or would be shot”.
He said the soldiers he met “revelled in what happened”.
‘Pat on the back’
He also explained that earlier in the day on 9 August 1971, he had shot and wounded a petrol bomber on the Falls Road in west Belfast, and had accompanied him to hospital.
He said the incident was not properly investigated, but that the battalion adjutant had called him into his office some days later and given him “literally a pat on the back”.
He said the officer had told him “the only mistake you made was not killing the…” and said that the officer then swore.
M597 said he had no memory of making a proper statement.
He said that many months later in court he agreed to drop the charge of petrol bombing against the man because he had nothing against him.
He also described a separate occasion when he was given photographs of shooting victims by a medic or doctor, but refused to keep them.
He said he thought: “God, these are real people from here.”
Of those weeks in 1971 he said: “It was sheer bravado, rogue soldiers were out of control, killing people in the street and knowing they would be protected.”
With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Will Leitch for the original story