Witnesses saw ‘beasting’ of heatstroke soldier

Soldiers during training in the Brecon Beacons. Army has also faced criticism over deaths during poorly supervised exercises. Picture: Getty
Soldiers during training in the Brecon Beacons. Army has also faced criticism over deaths during poorly supervised exercises. Picture: Getty
Share this article
0
Have your say

SEVERAL people witnessed a young soldier being “beasted” on the day he died from heatstroke on one of the hottest day of the year, an inquest heard.

Soldiers and civilians saw Private Gavin Williams being put through the intense session of physical exercise to punish him for disobedience and a series of drunken high jinks, and described him as looking tired and in a “bad shape”.

He was subjected to the beasting by three non-commissioned officers at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire, on Monday July 3 2006 - one of the hottest days of the year.

Pte Williams, of the Second Battalion the Royal Welsh Regiment, complained of stomach pains and collapsed and died from heatstroke.

The 22-year-old, from Hengoed, south Wales, was later admitted to hospital where tests showed his body temperature was 41.7C (107F), way above the norm of 37C (98.6F). Tests later showed he had ecstasy in his body when he died.

Sergeant Russell Price, of 2 Rifles, Sergeant Paul Blake, and Corporal John Edwards, both from the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Regiment, who carried out the punishment, were cleared of manslaughter at Winchester Crown Court in 2008. The inquest in Salisbury, Wiltshire, heard Pte Williams had been out drinking heavily with colleagues on the Friday and Saturday nights before his death and had been involved in an incident with guests attending a summer ball at the officers’ mess by spraying them with a fire extinguisher. The inquest heard that on the Monday morning Pte Williams was given a dressing down by his company sergeant major and sent away to change into his uniform.

Meanwhile, battalion adjutant Captain Mark Davis directed that Pte Williams report to the Regimental Police staff at the guard room and then be brought to his office “hot and sweaty”. He has denied ordering a beasting.

Lance Corporal Christopher Elshaw, who was on duty in the guard room, saw Pte Williams standing outside the building and being shouted at.

“I think Cpl Edwards was giving Gavin Williams a bollocking – there was shouting and swear words,” he said.