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FORMER soldier Dennis Hutchings’ appeal to the Supreme Court against a decision to try him in a Diplock Court for murder has been dismissed.

It was unanimously dismissed in the Supreme Court in London on Thursday.

Mr Hutchings is now due to be tried for attempted murder in connection with a fatal shooting in Northern Ireland in 1974.

A Diplock Court is a non-jury trial heard by a judge only.

Dennis Hutchings during his stint in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Mr Hutchings, 77, from Cawsand, Cornwall, has denied charges of attempted murder and attempting to cause grievous bodily harm.

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, in 1974.

Mr Hutchings has made the case it was never his intention to kill or injure Mr Cunningham, but that he was firing warning shots to get him to stop.

He began his appeal in March.

Lord Kerr, who delivered the judgement on Thursday, said that trial by jury should not be assumed to be the unique means of achieving fairness in the criminal justice process.

Hutchings leaving court.

Last month, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said British troops and veterans would be given stronger legal protections against prosecution.

The proposed law would protect them from investigation over actions on the battlefield abroad after 10 years, except in “exceptional circumstances”.

Ms Mordaunt said it would prevent “repeated or unfair investigations”.

However, the protections, which will be put to a public consultation, would not apply to alleged offences in Northern Ireland.

The defence secretary said she wanted the protection to be extended to troops who had served in Northern Ireland but warned the issue was “not going to be resolved over night”.

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