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Image source, PA MediaImage caption, Dennis Hutchings, 80, denied attempting to murder and cause grievous bodily harm to John Pat Cunningham

An ex-soldier has died while on trial over a fatal shooting during the Troubles.

Dennis Hutchings, 80, denied attempting to murder and cause grievous bodily harm to John Pat Cunningham.

Mr Cunningham, 27, was shot in the back as he ran from an Army patrol near Benburb, County Tyrone, in 1974.

Mr Hutchings' trial was adjourned on Friday after he took ill and the court heard on Monday that he had tested positive for Covid-19.

The non-jury trial has been sitting in Belfast for three days each week to allow Mr Hutchings, who had been suffering from an incurable chronic kidney disease, to receive ongoing treatment.

Mr Hutchings, from Cornwall, was an ex-member of the Life Guards regiment.

He also suffered from heart failure and fluid on the lung. He died in the Mater Hospital in Belfast.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he "should never have been brought to trial again, not least because of his health but also a lack of compelling new evidence".

Desperately sad news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hutchings family. We have said all along that Dennis should never have been brought to trial again, not least because of his health but also a lack of compelling new evidence. There are serious questions to answer here. pic.twitter.com/o3trAZg9K2

— Jeffrey Donaldson MP (@J_Donaldson_MP) October 18, 2021
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister said the "needless dragging of an 80-year-old soldier through the courts has had a very sad end".

"The strain on this man was cruel, with him requiring regular dialysis, while being brought to Belfast to face a trial of dubious provenance," he said.

"My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends who may understandably feel that what he was put through contributed to his decline."