MIKE HOOKEM MEP: “A single judge deciding guilt or innocence is not justice!”

Published Nov 08, 2017

Former Life Guard’s soldier, charged with attempted murder in Northern Ireland 43 years ago, appeals to High Court for jury trial.

Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire MEP, Mike Hookem has said he is “delighted” former soldier, Dennis Hutchings is mounting a High Court challenge over the decision to send him to trial without a jury in Northern Ireland.

Seventy-six-year-old former Life Guard Regiment soldier, Dennis Hutchings, is charged in Northern Ireland with attempted murder over the killing of an IRA suspect in Co. Armagh at the height of the “Troubles”.

The seriously ill pensioner was charged in the province after the 1974 killing of John Patrick Cunninghman – who was running away from an army patrol at the time of the incident - was re-examined by police.

Lawyers for Mr Hutchings now claim Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions wrongly decided the criminal case should be determined by a judge sitting alone, rather than by a jury, in order “to guard against a potentially perverse verdict being reached.”

Speaking from Brussels, Mr Hookem said, “I always find it perverse that Mr Hutchings was charged in the first place, but I find it abhorrent that a single judge should be allowed to decide the verdict.”

“Whatever the context and background to what happened over 40 years ago, everyone is entitled to a fair trial. Having one person decide guilt or innocence smacks to me as a form of totalitarianism, and it simply should not be allowed.

“A jury trial is an intrinsic tenant of British justice, and it must not be denied in Mr Hutchings case. That is why I am so pleased to hear that Dennis has decided to launch a High Court challenge to demand his rights.

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