Court Martial starts

John A Silkstone

Mi General
MI.Net Member
Jul 11, 2004
Army instructors accused of bullying new recruits

Four Army training instructors have gone on trial at a court martial, accused of bullying and assaulting new young recruits at an infantry training centre.

Opening the case against them Lieutenant Colonel Bilan Siddique said: "This is not a case of a drunken assault outside a nightclub, rather alleged low-level physical assault consistent with the type of bullying and abuse of position which remains unacceptable and unlawful."

Charges included punching recruits in the face, kicking in the groin, striking over the head with a chair and even running a vacuum cleaner over a recruit's hands while he was doing press-ups as a punishment," the court martial was told.

The men, all now serving in Northern Ireland, sat impassive as the case against them was outlined at the military court in RAF Aldergrove in County Antrim.

The accused are: Colour Sergeant Michael Hetherington of the 1st Battalion The Rifles, Corporals Henry Sanday, Stuart Pagett and Paul Jakeman, all of the 2nd Battalion The Rifles.

The three soldiers acting as jury – a lieutenant-colonel, a major and a warrant officer – were told as the case opened that Paul Jakeman had since been reduced in rank to lance corporal for administrative reasons unrelated to the case.

Lt Col Siddique said the charges resulted from complaints made by six recruits from The Rifles and one from 8th King's Division. Four of the complainants have since left the Army and three were still serving.

There are 16 charges of ill treatment, two of negligence and one of attempting to pervert the course of justice. All four accused face charges of ill treatment.

The Army launched an investigation into allegations of bullying and abuse at the training centre following an undercover investigation by a BBC reporter who signed on as a military trainee.

Lt Col Siddique said all the soldiers denied the charges during a series of interviews, insisting it was not something they would do.

Colour Sergeant Hetherington denies three charges, one of ill treatment and two of neglecting to perform his duty by twice failing to report alleged incidents of assault.

Corporal Sanday denies five charges of ill treatment and one of intent to pervert the course of justice.

Corporal Pagett denies three allegations of ill treating soldiers by kicking and punching them.

Lance Corporal Jakeman denies six charges of ill treating soldiers by kicking and punching.

The prosecutor said that Cpl Sanday was accused of ill treating Rifleman James Hands by pushing his face into the ground while he was doing press-ups.

He said it was the catalyst for a sequence of events.

"Hands, by his admission, jumped up, threw punches, two of which connected and resulted in an exchange of blows," he said.

The incident and the aftermath was, he said, witnessed by Colour Sergeant Hetherington who followed the injured man to a washroom when he went to clean himself up and was alleged to have grabbed him, pushed his face into a mirror and said: "If you ever do anything like that again, I will bury you," or similar words, said Lt Col Saddique.

He said there was also a civilian witness to the initial incident, a woman who had given a statement of seeing a soldier being punched on the back of the head while lying on the ground.

He said the evidence of the independent witness was similar to the complaint made by Hands.

Another charge, this time relating to L/Cpl Jakeman, alleged that on a training exercise he threw a rifleman, Thomas Chisholm, to the ground and started shouting at him and punching him.

The incident happened behind a farm building and there were no witnesses, said the lieutenant colonel, but he added that there were witnesses who saw them emerging from behind the farm building.

On another occasion, Chisholm was walking along with his hands in his pockets and Jakeman called him into an office and made him do press-ups during which he ran a vacuum cleaner over his hands and punched him, said the prosecutor.

He said Rifleman Chisholm had gone on to serve in Afghanistan's Helmand Province and had not wanted to pursue the incidents but had eventually been prevailed upon to make formal statements.

A rifleman, Derek Antwi-Boasiako, alleged Corporal Pagett repeatedly punched him with both fists in the face following a gym exercise in which he had touched the corporal on the arm to get his attention.

Lt Col Saddique said the charge against Sanday of attempting to pervert the course of justice involved urging a private, Dominic Tomlinson, who had made complaints against him to give an account to the Royal Military Police which he knew to be false.

Following the opening, the case was adjourned until tomorrow when the first witness will be called.

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