Politicians and bikers among mourners at funeral for veteran Dennis Hutchings

·2-min read

Hundreds of mourners including politicians, bikers and ex-servicemen and women have attended the funeral of Northern Ireland veteran Dennis Hutchings.

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.

The funeral service – which took place in Plymouth on Thursday afternoon – saw dozens of motorbikes from Rolling Thunder UK accompanying the coffin as part of the cortege.

Hundreds of people in military clothing lined a road and applauded and saluted as the coffin went by – before it was carried into St Andrew’s church in the Devon city by military pallbearers to the sounds of The Life Guards Slow March.

Bikers revved and sounded their horns as they arrived close to the church as police blocked off the road.

Military flags were held aloft as the coffin went by and wreaths were laid outside the church.

The coffin was draped in a Union Flag, floral tributes and a military hat.

Dennis Hutchings funeral
Riders from Rolling Thunder UK join the funeral cortege (Ben Birchall/PA)

Among those at the funeral was former veterans minister and Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer – who spoke during the service.

Friends and family began to enter St Andrew’s Church at 12pm before the service was opened by Reverend Joe Dent.

A sea of people wearing berets, medals and poppies had waited outside for hours.

Written in the order of service was the message: “Dennis’s family wish to express their sincere thanks to all those who have sent cards and messages of condolence, and for your presence at the funeral service today.”

Dennis Hutchings funeral
Family members arrive for the funeral of Dennis Hutchings (Ben Birchall/PA)

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

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.

The 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 Northern Ireland’s Troubles.

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