Ex-soldier to have dialysis while on trial over Troubles shooting

Ex-soldier Dennis Hutchings is pictured outside Plymouth Crown Court stands accused of shooting a vulnerable man with learning difficulties in the back three timesAn army veteran being prosecuted over the killing of a man during the Troubles 45 years ago will endure a much longer trial so he can undergo kidney dialysis.

Dennis Hutchings, 78, who is dying of renal failure, has agreed to appear in person at his trial being held in Northern Ireland.

He had previously vowed not to attend, refusing to recognise the authority of a court in which he had been deprived of the right to a trial by jury.

However, a barrister for Mr Hutchings told Belfast Crown Court his client would appear in person during the non-jury trial, to take place in March.

Proceedings will have to be postponed at least two days each week so that Mr Hutchings can be taken to a hospital in Belfast for dialysis.

The delays will effectively double the length of the trial.

Mr Hutchings, a former member of the Life Guards regiment, has pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of a man with learning difficulties during the conflict.

John Pat Cunningham was 27-years-old who was a vulnerable adult with learning difficulties and was shot in the back three times. Shot down in cold blood

John Pat Cunningham, 27, died after being shot in the back as he ran away from an Army patrol near Benburb, Co Tyrone, in 1974.

The case has become a cause célèbre on both sides.

Mr Hutchings will be the first veteran to stand trial over a fresh wave of investigations being conducted by police looking at historic allegations during the conflict.

Mr Hutchings, from Cawsand in Cornwall, also denies attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.

In September, he appeared before a judge in Belfast by video link from Plymouth for his arraignment hearing.

Afterwards, he told hundreds of supporters outside Plymouth Crown Court that he would not attend the trial as he did not recognise the legitimacy of the system.

He previously failed in a Supreme Court challenge against the decision to hear his case without a jury.

At Belfast Crown Court yesterday, Ian Turkington, his barrister, told Mr Justice Colton: “It is his intention to participate in the trial here.”

Mr Turkington said arrangements were being made with Belfast City Hospital to enable Mr Hutchings to undergo dialysis, and he may require treatment three times a week by March.

The judge replied: “I will obviously accommodate any treatment that is required.”

Charles MacCreanor QC, for the prosecution, said it was important that Mr Hutchings had indicated he would attend after his previous “public pronouncements” had caused “concern”.

With many thanks to: The Telegraph and Robert Mendick for the original story 

Judge to rule if ex-soldier will face trial over 1988 murder

SHOT IN THE BACK: Aidan McAnespie

There was a heavy police presence at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court yesterday for the final stage of a hearing into the case of a former soldier accused of shooting a Catholic man dead more than 30 years ago.

Aidan McAnespie (23) was killed as he walked through an army checkpoint in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, having been struck by one of three bullets fired from a machine gun.

Although the hearing challenging the position of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is now complete, it will be later this month before a decision is taken over whether former Grenadier Guardsman David Jonathan Holden will be committed for trial for manslaughter.

Fifty-year-old Holden, whose address was given as care of his lawyer’s Belfast offices, appeared in court for the second day of a Preliminary Investigation (PI) wearing his regimental blazer, and with many supporters seated in the public gallery of the courtroom.

Mr McAnespie was walking through a British Army border checkpoint when he was shot dead

He is charged with unlawfully killing Mr McAnespie on February 21, 1988, who was on his way to a Gaelic football match.

Seated behind the dock were many family and friends of the deceased, as well as their supporters, including Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew.

The matter was heard by District Judge Amanda Brady over the course of two days, the first of which was back in August.

The content cannot be reported at this time, although the final ruling can be disclosed as it will inform the decision over whether or not Holden will stand trial.

Holden was 18 at the time of the incident.

He now resides in England.

He listened intently to proceedings throughout and did not speak at any stage, save to confirm his identity.

After counsel for both the defence and prosecution concluded submissions, Judge Brady said: “I will take time to consider all evidence and submissions in this matter to establish if there is a case to answer.

“I will give a written ruling in due course.”

While no specific date has been set, it is expected the ruling will be delivered later this month.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which continues to hold PIs, with other jurisdictions abolishing them some time ago.

It is the right of the defence to mount a PI in order to examine evidence of some or all PPS witnesses, with is recorded and signed off as statements.

Such hearings require specific court procedures, usually involving setting aside a specific venue.

A District Judge presides and, after hearing all evidence, will issue a ruling on whether or not the accused person is to stand trial.

With many thanks to the: Belfast Telegraph and Staff Reporter for the original story 

Former British soldier pleads not guilty to attempted murder of Armagh man in 1974

John Pat Cunningham murder scene

The scene at Carrickaness Road in Benburb where John Pat Cunningham was shot

Dennis Hutchinson, 78, a former member of the Life Guards Regiment (inset: John Pat Cunningham)

A former British soldier accused of attempted murder in relation to the death of a Co Armagh man more than 40 years ago has pleaded not guilty.

John Pat Cunningham

John Pat Cunningham, a 27-year-old with learning difficulties was shot in the back as he ran away from an Army patrol on the Carrickaness Road in Benburb on June 15, 1974.

Dennis Hutchings, 78, a former member of the Life Guards regiment, today (Thursday) pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and GBH with intent.

He appeared in a Northern Ireland court via videolink from Plymouth Crown Court due to his ill-health.

Dozens of supporters formed a guard of honour as Hutchings arrived at the court this morning.

The pensioner says it was never his intention to kill or injure Mr Cunningham, but rather he was firing warning shots to get him to stop.

The trial will be a non-jury trial heard by a judge only and will commence next March.

Mr Hutchings was released on continuing bail.

With many thanks to: Armagh 1 for the original story 

Family of man shot dead on Bloody Sunday to receive £300k compensation


Families to challenge anonymity

BLOODY Sunday relatives are to challenge the anonymity granted to Soldier F. 

SUPPORT: Two life size figures in a loyalist area of East Belfast in support of the double murder-accused paratrooper ‘Soldier F’

Before yesterday’s hearing at Derry Magistrates Court, families of victims and surviving wounded walked in unison from the city’s Diamond to Bishop Street Courthouse. Michael McKinney said the first hearing in the case was an important day and he was thinking of his brother William as he went into the court. “I was leaving the house this morning and I looked at a picture of us at Downing Street shortly after we started the campaign for justice for Willie and the others and I thought we’ve come a long way since the campaign started in 1992,” he said. Liam Wray, also described yesterday as “historic”.

Following the hearing, solicitor Ciaran Shields – who represents the McKinney family, three of the wounded as well as the family of Patrick O’Donnell, deceased, who was also wounded  – said the court proceedings progressed as expected. He also revealed plans to challenge the anonymity granted to Soldier F. Following Bloody Sunday, most of the British soldiers involved

CAMPAIGN: Liam Wray and Michael McKinney whose brothers were murdered by ‘Soldier F’ on Bloody Sunday in 1972

were granted anonymity as a security measure. That was renewed during the Seville Inquiry, while Derry District Judge Barney McElholm granted a further interim order yesterday. Mr Shields said he intended to write to the Public Prosection Service to ask it to “robustly” challenge Soldier F’s anonymity. “Public confidence in this prosecution requires it to proceed in an open and transparent manner,” he said. “Soldier F should be prosecuted in a manner consistent with the prosecution of the vast majority of the limited number of soldiers who were prosecuted in the past for murder and attempted murder, without the benefit of anonymity.”

With many thanks to: The Irish News and Seamus McKinney for the original story derry@irishnews.com


That was renewed during the Seville Inquiry,


Donna Grew, sister of ‘Shoot to Kill’ brothers, subject to £3.2m unexpired wealth order!

Donna Grew, at the rear of the picture, carries the coffin of her brother Dessie who was murdered in a ‘Shoot to Kill’ policy by the SAS (Secret Air Service) at Loughgall

A SISTER of two Co Armagh men who died in separate shoot-to-kill incidents has been made subject to one of the largest unexplained wealth orders (UWO) since the legislation was introduced. Donna Grew (53), originally from just outside Moy, Co Armagh, is the director of property management companies based in London where she lives. On Wednesday the National Crime Agency said it had secured an interim freezing order and UWO at the High Court in London on July 24th. Ms Grew is suspected of having links to paramilitary activity and large-scale cigarette smuggling. She has been ordered to explain how she acquired properties worth £3.2million.

The properties cannot be sold, transferred or dissipated while the investigation is ongoing. It is just the fourth time that the powers have been used since their introduction last year. The legislation has yet to be introduced in the North of Ireland. Ms Grew is from a very well known republican family. Her brother Dessie Grew (37) was one of two IRA members shot dead by the SAS under disputed circumstances near Loughgall on October 9th 1990.

Another brother, INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) member Seamus Grew (31), pictured below,

Óglach Seamus Grew, INLA, murdered by the RUC, December 12th, 1982.

was murdered near Armagh on December 12th, 1982 by the RUC. Ms Grew is expected to fight the UWO. The civil recovery legislation is controversial because it reverses the burden of proof. Last October the High Court in London upheld the use of the first UWO against Zamira Hajiyeva, wife of Jahangir Hajiyeva, a former banker jailed for fraud and embezzlement in Azerbaijan. It compelled her to tell the NCA how she could afford £22m of UK real estate.

With many thanks to the: Irish News and Allison Morris (Security Correspondent) for the original story a.morris@irishnews.com

The murders of both of her brothers are explained below

Martin McCaughey (right) and Dessie Grew who were murdered by the SAS in Co Armagh in October 1990

 SAS soldiers facing shoot to kill allegations over IRA murders’used reasonable force’, inquest rules

SAS soldiers at the centre of controversial “shoot-to-kill” allegations over the deaths of two IRA members in The North of Ireland have been found to have acted in a controlled and professional way, the Ministry of Defence said today.

An IRA mural in Newry, Co Down, in December 2004 Photo: PA

Dessie Grew, 37, and Martin McCaughey, 23, were killed in a hail of bullets when troops opened fire on them near farm buildings in Co Armagh in October 1990.

The high-profile case became one of a number where security forces faced allegations they had secretly planned to kill IRA members without any attempt to arrest them.

The Ministry of Defence has welcomed the findings of an inquest jury in Belfast that the soldiers used reasonable force in the incident, including when shots were fired at one of the IRA members as he lay wounded.

“We welcome the decision of the jury who clearly found that the soldiers involved acted in a controlled and professional way when faced with a grave threat to their lives,” said spokesman for the MoD in Northern Ireland.

The troops had a mushroom shed near Loughgall under surveillance amid suspicions a stolen vehicle inside was to be used for terrorism.

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Shortly after midnight on October 9, 1990, Grew and McCaughey arrived at the scene. The men were armed with AK47 rifles, and wore gloves and balaclavas.

A soldier opened fire claiming he feared his life and the lives of his colleagues were in danger.

Other troops said they returned fire at sparks they believed were muzzle flashes coming from armed IRA members.

It emerged the republicans did not shoot and the soldiers later said they were firing at flashes they subsequently realised were caused by their own bullets.

Questions were also raised over why Grew was shot at close quarters as he lay injured on the ground.

Soldiers who gave evidence at the inquest were not identified during the hearings in Belfast’s Laganside courts complex and testified from behind a curtain.

They faced lengthy cross-examination from the legal team representing the bereaved families, who challenged their account of events.

The case was one of several so-called security force “shoot-to-kill” incidents which caused international controversy at the height of the Troubles and sparked a series of official investigations.

But the jury in the inquest found that the troops were operating at a time when IRA attacks on security forces were at a high level, and that McCaughey and Grew had put their own lives in danger by being in the area of the stolen car, wearing masks and carrying guns.

Jurors backed the soldiers’ belief that they felt their lives were in danger and found that they had used reasonable force under the circumstances.

The jury also considered the account of a soldier who told the inquest that as troops moved towards the mushroom sheds and opened a door, the wounded Grew made a noise and moved towards his gun, leading the soldier to shoot.

The jury found the soldier, who fired two shots into Grew, had felt he was under threat and ruled his reaction was reasonable.

Jurors could not come to a unanimous decision on the balance of probabilities whether or not there was an opportunity to attempt to arrest the IRA members.

But the jury agreed that once the soldiers felt compromised, they had no other reasonable course of action than to open fire.

With many thanks to: The Telegraph for the original story.

RUC man who shot unarmed PIRA man told doctor job had been “great until ceasefire”

18 October 2012

Pearce Jordan (inset) and the scene of the 1992 shooting



A police officer who shot dead an unarmed IRA man later told a doctor that his job had been “great until the ceasefire”, an inquest into the killing has heard.

Pearse Jordan (22) was shot dead by the RUC’s elite HMSU unit on the Falls Road in west Belfast on November 25, 1992.

Jordan had been driving a stolen car when it was rammed off the road by a HMSU unit led by sergeant `A`.

As Jordan exited the car and tried to run away he was hit by three shots fired by `A`.

He was fatally wounded and died a short time later.

`A` claimed that he’d opened fire when Jordan had turned towards him convincing the policeman that he was about to open fire.

However it quickly emerged that the 22 year-old was unarmed and had been shot in the back while trying to escape.

In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ordered the British government to pay compensation to the dead man’s family after it ruled that inquest procedures into the killing were flawed.

In 2002 a legal challenge taken by the Jordan family resulted in the Lord Chancellor amending the law to compel soldiers and police officers responsible for lethal force shootings to attend inquest hearings.

The Jordan family campaigned for an inquest into the killing for nearly 20 years before a hearing officially opened last month.

Despite the controversial nature of the shoot-to-kill allegations, inquest proceedings have gone virtually unreported in the media.

However the Detail can reveal that `A` has now given evidence, despite having previously refused to take part in proceedings for nearly a decade.

In court this week `A`, who now lives abroad, said that he had previously refused to attend inquest proceedings since 2004 because of fears that his identity would be revealed.

A number of police officers involved in the fatal shooting have been granted anonymity.

`A` had failed to attend the inquest when called as a witness earlier in proceedings, but unexpectedly appeared to give evidence this week.

Questioned by the Jordan family’s barrister Barry MacDonald SC (instructed by Madden & Finucane solicitors), as to why he had only now chosen to give evidence, he said:

“One reason was I knew the inquest had actively started and another is there is only one person who can give my side of events and that is me….I’m here to give my side of events.”

The court was told `A` joined the RUC in 1973 as a 23 year-old and was promoted to sergeant five years later.

In 1980 he joined the RUC’s Special Support Unit (SSU), an elite uniformed team which was trained by the SAS.

SSU was controversially involved in a series of alleged shoot-to-kill incidents in 1982, when six suspected paramilitaries were shot dead in three separate incidents in Co Armagh.

The killings sparked outrage when it emerged that all six had been unarmed and that SSU officers – including `A` – had made false statements to cover up what had really happened.

Following the controversy SSU was rebranded as Headquarters Mobile Support Unit (HMSU).

The court heard that `A` had been chosen for the unit because of his calmness in dangerous situations and how he had taken part in hundreds of anti-terror operations and had been the leader of an RUC sniper unit as well as having trained VIP bodyguards.

On 25 November 1992 `A` had been the leader of a HSMU unit in west Belfast tasked to support a surveillance operation against a suspected IRA bomb factory at Arizona Street.

HMSU had a number of vehicles, including a red Ford Orion driven by Jordan, under surveillance.

His unit had been tasked to stop the Orion as it drove along the Falls Road under the pretence that its rear brake lights were not working.

`A` told the court that when his unit attempted to stop the car Jordan had sped off and a high speed chase ensued, ending when the police car rammed the Orion off the road.

Seconds later Jordan got out of the car and tried to run away across the Falls Road.

`A` fired five shots, hitting Jordan three times.

He died a short time later.

`A` claimed that he’d shot Jordan when he turned as he was running away and he feared he was going to shoot him.

However forensic evidence later showed that the 22 year-old was unarmed and – contrary to police accounts – had his back to `A` when he was shot.

When `A` was asked by Mr MacDonald if HMSU units had been trained to shoot to kill rather than to shoot to try and disable a suspect, he said:

“Yes if you want to put it that way.”

Questioned if he had thrived on being involved in dangerous situations during his career, he replied: “It was my job.”

Asked whether he had been at the “peak of his powers” as a police officer at the time of the Jordan shooting, he said: “I couldn’t possibly answer that.”

Former RUC Chief Constable Sir Hugh Annesley


The inquest was told that `A` had described himself as one of the most experienced and capable armed police officers in western Europe in a personal profile which had been requested by then RUC Chief Constable Sir Hugh Annesley following the Jordan shooting.

When asked why the chief constable had sought a personal history of his police career, `A` said: “I’ve no idea.”

The court was told how `A` had been placed on administrative duties while an investigation into the fatal shooting was carried out.

However he’d found desk duties boring.

Asked why he’d told an RUC doctor in 1995 that his job had been “great until the ceasefire”, he replied: “I don’t know, because it was.”

He also admitted to the doctor that he’d become “irritable” in his home life following his enforced removal from operational duties.

He said that events prior to the shooting had involved a high speed car chase, which resulted in police ramming Jordan’s car, believing it was transporting a bomb into Belfast city centre.

“I got out and reacted in a flash,” he said, adding later, “maybe you needed to be there.”

He described the Jordan incident as one of the worst professional experiences of his career, but denied that he had been wrong to the shoot an unarmed man.

“When he turned around I couldn’t see his hands and I thought my life was in danger.”

Challenged by Mr MacDonald that the threat to his life could only have been perceived rather than real, `A’ replied:

“I was assuming at the time he was going to raise his hands with a weapon.”

As part of his elite training `A` had taken part in live weapons exercises, which involved firing at pop-up cardboard figures of armed terrorists as well as unarmed civilians.

Questioned as to whether shooting an unarmed man would have been accepted in training sessions, he admitted: “I would have been marked down for it, because I probably shouldn’t have.”

He went on: “I agree with you, in a training situation, in a pop-up cardboard target, I possibly might not have done that.”

However he rejected Mr MacDonald’s accusation that he had acted recklessly by opening fire on a busy road with civilians in the immediate vicinity.

“No that’s wrong. You keep bringing up my involvement in hundreds of anti-terrorist operations. You can’t have it both ways.”

Scene of the Pearse Jordan execution


`A` had claimed that his vision of Mr Jordan’s full torso had been blocked by the police car from behind which he had opened fire.

However evidence from forensic experts suggested that the position of spent cartridges and entry wounds on the body meant that `A` had in fact fired from the rear of the car with a clear view of Mr Jordan.

When challenged with the RUC’s own Code of Conduct, which states that an officer should not open fire on an individual if the officer only suspects that the target is armed, `A` replied:

“The people who wrote this are like your Mr Boyce (forensic expert), they weren’t there that night.”

Recalling his emotions when first informed that Jordan had been unarmed and had not been transporting explosives, he said:

“I knew I was going to have to answer for my actions.”

He denied that he had discussed the shooting with two other HMSU officers as they returned to a police station shortly after the incident.

“That just wasn’t the conversation we were going to have.

“It was obviously a very serious incident and was something which was going to be the subject of an investigation.”

The inquest was told that `A` had failed to mention that he had shot an unarmed man when he wrote an account of his actions that day in his police notebook, simply recording a “serious incident on Falls Road”.

“Yes I had a notebook,” later adding, “but I didn’t make an entry because I didn’t like writing things down which (a) I might lose or (b) might fall into the wrong hands.

“So I kept it as brief as possible.”

The inquest was told that `A` had failed to mention the fact that he had felt his life was in danger during a HMSU briefing which took place at the police station an hour after the shooting.

Despite his HMSU commander instructing him to go home `A` remained in the police station for six hours after the shooting.

“I can’t explain that particular reason why I didn’t want to leave the building,” he said.

Questioned whether he had been in a relaxed state after the shooting, he replied:

“Possibly at the time I thought I was.”

Seamus Grew (left) and Roddy Carroll were murdered in an alleged shoot-to-kill incident in December 1982

The court was told that `A` had previously been involved in another alleged shoot-to-kill incident 10 years before the Jordan shooting.

On December 12, 1982 `A` had been monitoring radio transmissions during an SSU (predecessor of HMSU) operation which resulted in the shooting dead of INLA men Roddy Carroll and Seamus Grew.

The RUC initially claimed the men’s car had crashed through a roadblock, hitting a police officer, and the two unarmed republicans had been shot dead in the high speed chase which followed.

However, it subsequently emerged they had not crashed through any roadblock or knocked down a policeman, but were shot dead by the SSU while unarmed.

It later emerged that HMSU officers – including `A` had knowingly given false statements to cover up the true events of the killings.

“You were prepared to make false statements and tell whatever lies you were told to do so?” Mr MacDonald said – “That’s correct,” `A` replied.

“That 1982 incident was a complete mistake,” he said.

“We were wrongly directed by senior officers who we thought at the time knew better.”

He added: “I think possibly that possible in fact a lot of that stuff (involving) SSU was in part probably naivety on our part at the time.”

However `A` went on to admit that he would have been prepared to lie if he had been called as a witness during his colleague’s murder trial.

“Yes, if it had continued yes.”

However rejecting Mr MacDonald’s assertion that he had also been prepared to lie about the shooting of Mr Jordan 10 years later, he said:

“My recollection on what happened that night is what I have said previously.”

Dismissing the suggestion that he had shot the unarmed Jordan knowing he posed no threat to his own life, `A` insisted: “I refute that.”

Asked by barrister Turlough Montague QC what his role had been on the day of the shooting, `A` said:

“To prevent a resupply of explosives and munitions and possibly some sort of explosive device being brought into Belfast.”

He said that his unit had been involved in helping with surveillance on a suspected IRA bomb factory at Arizona Street in west Belfast and tracking the movements of a coal lorry and two cars (one driven by Jordan).

Asked to explain how forensic tests indicated that Mr Jordan had in fact been shot in the back – and not in the front as suggested by police statements, `A` said:

“The only way I can explain that is when I was in the process of firing he continued to turn round.”

The court was told that `A` had only previously discharged his weapon on three other occasions during his time with HMSU, but had been heavily been involved in anti-terror operations.

Questioned how many anti-terror arrest operations he’d been involved in during his career, he said: “Over 50 I would imagine. Lots, I really couldn’t put figures on it,” adding that he had been involved in dozens of operations to thwart bomb attacks.

Rejecting the allegation that `A` and his HMSU colleagues had deliberately lied to cover-up the shooting of an unarmed man, he said: “No I think the opposite.”

Adding: “I think if I had been wanting to tell a story or whatever and have every one basically sing off the same hymn sheet, that I would have gone into more detail. But I was confident that my actions, that I didn’t need to explain to other police presence of what my role or what my action was.”

The inquest is expected to conclude next week

With many thanks to: The Detail and Barry McCaffrey for the original story