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Journalist who was ‘talented and fearless’ dies suddenly aged 46

Brian HuttonA former regional daily journalist who went on to work on PA’s newsdesk has died aged 46.

Tributes have been paid to Brian Hutton, formerly of the Belfast Telegraph, who died suddenly on New Year’s Eve after falling ill.

Brian, pictured, began his career on the Telegraph in 2003 and later provided coverage of the North-West of Ireland for the Daily Mirror.

He spent more than a decade working as deputy news editor at PA’s Dublin office until 2017 and had more recently freelanced for the Irish Times.

Bel Tel health correspondent Lisa Smyth told her newspaper: “Brian was the type of person who, even if you hadn’t seen him for years and you bumped into him on a job, you would have been able to have a good catch-up.

“He was lovely and it’s such a shock to hear of his passing.

“By sheer coincidence, just a few weeks ago, I was telling a colleague about an incident involving Brian many years ago when we worked together.

“It was during the summer and Brian was up at Ardoyne and he was hit on the head with a brick and had to go to hospital.

“He sent his story from A&E and everyone joked at the time that he’d set the bar so high for the rest of us because he still filed, even when he had a head injury — but it was a mark of how dedicated he was.

“I know all of us who worked with Brian all those years ago are stunned and saddened by his loss.”

Paul Connolly, former news editor at the Telegraph, added: “Brian was a talented and fearless reporter who could turn his hand to any story that came along.

“He had complete integrity and possessed a fierce dedication to tell the stories of people affected by tragedy or events.

“I remember once he was caught in an explosion whilst covering a riot in north Belfast and it never affected his determination to keep on reporting the news on the ground.

“Brian was a great writer and was great company too. He will be greatly missed by all of his colleagues past and present.”

Brian also co-founded independent radio production company Old Yard Productions, which produced award-winning documentaries about horse racing family the Carberries and singer Van Morrison.

Irish Times editor Ruadhán Mac Cormaic said: “[Brian was] a superb journalist whose sharp news instinct, observational skill and natural curiosity meant his byline invariably appeared on the biggest and most important stories.”

“He was also great company: warm, open, interested in other people.”