Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-
“There should be no room in the law for that which has the appearance of being capricious.
“Just over a month ago Armagh District Court ruled that 75 year old Dennis Hutchings should not be returned for trial on an historic attempted murder charge, but that his trial should proceed only on a gbh charge.
“This considered judgement was delivered by a very experienced District Judge – himself a former senior officer in the PPS. The nub of the ruling was expressed by District Judge White in these succinct and compelling terms:- “When considering the circumstances the soldiers found themselves in and the time they had to reach a decision, I can’t see that any reasonable jury, properly directed, could find beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant intended to kill the deceased as opposed to causing him grievous bodily harm.”
“Yet, on Friday in an unnecessary, high-handed and unusual action the PPS moved to reinstate the attempted murder charge.
“Given a judge had ruled that no reasonable jury, properly directed, could convict of such a charge and given that a key part of the test for prosecution is a reasonable prospect of success, it is hard to find explanation for the PPS’ actions.
“The fact that Mr Hutchings is likely to be tried by a ‘Diplock Judge’, rather than a jury, makes no difference to the standard or test for bringing a prosecution. Thus the District Judge’s salient finding is not a plaything.
“The handling of this case is part of a disturbing trend where former security personnel are seen as easy pickings, while terrorists continue to go Scott free.”