Friday, October 30, 2009

Mother Assesses 'Beasting' Review

From BBC News:

The mother of a soldier who died after an army punishment is considering a judicial review to overturn a decision not to court-martial those involved.

Private Gavin Williams, 22, Hengoed, Caerphilly, collapsed and died at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth in 2006.

His mother Debra said she was still waiting to hear whether the Army would take any measures over her son's death.

The Ministry of Justice said it could not comment until the outcome of any disciplinary action.

Pte Williams died after being made to carry out an informal punishment known as beasting for misbehaviour, and was put through an intense session of physical exercise on one of the hottest days of the year.

A trial was held where three soldiers were cleared of manslaughter. A subsequent inquiry has also decided that three other soldiers would not face a court-martial.

Sgt Russell Price, 45, Sgt Paul Blake, 37, and Cpl John Edwards, 42, were found not guilty of manslaughter by a jury at Winchester Crown Court last year.

After the acquittal, trial judge Mr Justice Royce attacked the Army for allowing beasting to take place.

He also criticised the fact that the three non-commissioned officers were placed in the dock while their commander, the adjutant Captain Mark Davis, who said he wanted Pte Williams brought to him "hot and sweaty", was in the process of being promoted to the rank of major.

Following the trial, the Royal Military Police carried out its own investigation and sent its findings to the Independent Services Prosecuting Authority, which announced this week three different soldiers would not face a court martial over Pte Williams' death.

The three could still face administrative action against them.

Ms Williams said: "It's just frustrating because sometimes you just hit a brick wall and you feel like you're not getting anywhere.

"I think in time something has got to happen and something has got to come of this because they know damn well what took place did take place and someone has got to be blamed."

Ms Williams now has to decide what to do.

She can wait and see if the Army takes any action, or she can challenge the decision not to hold a court martial in the High Court.

However it could take several years for the case to be heard and would also hold up an inquest and board of inquiry into her son's death.

If she lost the challenge, Mrs Williams could face legal bills of £25,000.

"Money shouldn't be an issue but it's a lot of money we're talking about.

"Time for me is nothing. I could manage another two years, three years, four years, it doesn't matter to me.

"I don't think I'll ever give it up because it's something which shouldn't have happened in the first place."

Ms Williams has set up a website, Stop Beastings in the Army (, and says soldiers have contacted her to say a form of beasting still exists in the Army.

On Friday she will meet other families who have lost relatives in non-combat situations to raise awareness of what has happened.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/10/29 07:19:58 GMT

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