Military funeral for former soldier Dennis Hutchings to take place

Dennis Hutchings' funeral will take place in Plymouth. Credit: Pacemaker

The funeral of Dennis Hutchings is set to take place in Plymouth.

The 80-year-old, from Cawsand in Cornwall, died in Belfast last month after contracting Covid-19 while he was in the city to face trial over a fatal shooting in Co Tyrone in 1974.

His funeral will take place at St Andrew’s Church on the same day as Remembrance Day, with motorbikes from Rolling Thunder UK accompanying his coffin.

Mr Hutchings had pleaded not guilty to the attempted murder of John Pat Cunningham, and his solicitor Philip Barden said he had wanted to clear his name.

John Pat Cunningham.

The Ministry of Defence agreed to provide pallbearers after Mr Hutchings’ family lodged a formal request for members of his former regiment, the Life Guards, to attend.

Flags are permitted but the family have requested no political slogans, speeches or banners on the day.

The service will be broadcast on screens outside the church, as well as live on the internet for those who cannot attend.

His family will later hold a private event in Cornwall.

Former veterans minister and Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer said on Twitter ahead of the service: “Long day of preparations for Dennis’ funeral on Thursday.

“Thank you so much to all those who are coming and taking part.. his abandonment in Northern Ireland is in total contrast to how the Nation truly feels about him.

“Plymouth will show that on Thursday, I’ve no doubt.”

Rolling Thunder UK said on its website it is “very proud” to have been asked to organise the escort for the funeral cortege.

A statement read: “Dennis’s family are grateful for all the incredible support over many years and are looking forward to welcoming as many people as possible who can attend.

“For those on motorbikes and in cars who wish to accompany Dennis for his journey into Plymouth, the meet-up point will be Trerulefoot roundabout, west of Plymouth on the A38 (time to be confirmed).

“Those who wish to pay their respects to Dennis on foot should head for Royal Parade Plymouth.”

The court case had become the focus of attention in recent years as a number of other prosecutions were announced against veterans over deaths which took place during the Troubles.