SAS soldiers may face manslaughter charge

The Brecon Beacons in Wales. Picture: Getty
The Brecon Beacons in Wales. Picture: Getty
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Two soldiers could face manslaughter charges over the deaths of three army reservists who collapsed from heat exhaustion on an SAS selection exercise in the Brecon Beacons, it has emerged.

Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, 24, L/Cpl Edward Maher, 31, and Corporal James Dunsby, 31, died last summer after a 40-mile hike in soaring 29.5C (85F) temperatures.

Witnesses at the time reported seeing soldiers on the training exercise in distress and pleading for water.

L/Cpl Roberts, from from Penrhyn Bay, Conwy, and L/Cpl Mayer were pronounced dead on the same day but Cpl Dunsby, from Bath, Somerset, died two weeks later in hospital.

Yesterday a pre-inquest hearing was told the trio died from “over-heating” – or hyper-
thermia – following the gruelling selection exercise on 13 July.

It also emerged the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are expected to make a decision on whether to charge two SAS personnel in charge on the day with gross-negligence manslaughter by the end of this month. They are known as “1a” and “1b”.

Speaking at the hearing, Detective Superintendent Shane Williams, from Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “This is a joint investigation involving the Health and Safety Executive and police. The investigation focuses on 1a and 1b and focuses on manslaughter gross negligence.

“There have been 166 statements taken, 95 related to soldiers engaged in the activities on that day in July.

“We have the final statement from the pathologist who provided the cause of death of the three individuals. The CPS have decided to engage a further expert in heat exhaustion and he has supplied a 53-page paper.

“A decision will made whether we will prosecute 1a and 1b by no later than 28 June.

“The plan is to sit down with the families to speak to them in person to discuss the findings of the CPS in order to update the families with the investigation.”

The families of the three soldiers, who attended the pre-inquest at Solihull Council House, were also told the causes of their deaths for the first time.

Mrs Louise Hunt, coroner for the City of Birmingham and Borough of Solihull, said Cpl Dunsby died from “multi-organ failure as a result of hyperthermia”.

She added that L/Cpl Roberts and L/Cpl Maher both had died from “the effects of hyperthermia”.

Deciding that the full three-week inquest would be held without a jury on 20 October, Mrs Hunt added: “If we were to have a jury it would certainly take a lot longer.

“The complex nature of the expert evidence is likely to be difficult for a jury to grapple with. We have a lot of technical matter to deal with in terms of the army and SAS structures.”

The coroner adjourned the hearing for another pre-inquest review which is due to be held in Birmingham on 19 August.

The three soldiers died after collapsing during the military exercise on south Wales’ highest mountain, Pen y Fan, in the Brecon Beacons on one of the hottest days of last year.

L/Cpl Roberts was pronounced dead on the mountain at 5:15pm, while L/Cpl Maher died at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil almost three hours later.

Cpl Dunsby died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham on 30 July.

It is believed the trio were taking part in the gruelling “Fan Dance” which involves marching up the mountain, down the other side and back again carrying a weighted pack and rifle.