British army veteran Dennis Hutchings, whose trial at Belfast Crown Court over a Troubles shooting was adjourned due to his ill health, has died from Covid-19, aged 80.
He was accused of the killing of John Pat Cunningham, 27, who was shot while running away from an army patrol in County Tyrone in 1974.
The trial had been adjourned for three weeks.
Defence barrister James Lewis QC had informed Belfast Crown Court of the development as proceedings in the non-jury trial were due to begin on Monday.
Hutchings had been suffering from kidney disease and the court had been sitting only three days a week to enable him to undergo dialysis treatment between hearings.
He had denied a count of attempted grievous bodily harm with intent.
Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it was “desperately sad news”.
On Twitter, he said: “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.”
Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew tweeted: "I'm aware that there is a grieving family following the death of Denis Hutchings.
"The family of John Pat Cunningham also continue to grieve tonight, 47 years after he was gunned down by British soldiers. Let's remember that grief knows no bounds.”