Two soldiers charged after march tragedy
TWO special forces soldiers have been charged with negligent performance of duty over the deaths of three reservists during a 16- mile SAS test march.
Lance Corporal Edward Maher and Lance Corporal Craig Roberts were pronounced dead on the Brecon Beacons after suffering heatstroke in July 2013.
Corporal James Dunsby died at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital from multiple organ failure more than two weeks later. At an inquest into their deaths in 2015 in Solihull, Coroner Louise Hunt said parts of the planning and conduct of the march were inadequate or not fit for purpose.
She said inadequate supplies of water also con- tributed to one of the deaths.
All three men died as a result of a “failure to properly organise and manage” the march on July 13, 2013, she added.
A spokesman for the Service Prosecuting Authority ( SPA) confirmed the charges had been directed.
Two SAS soldiers known only as 1A and 1B could face up to two years in prison and dismissal if convicted.
The SPA initially decided not to charge anyone over the deaths but the charges were directed after lawyers acting for some of the bereaved lodged a review.
Lawyers who represented Cpl Dunsby’s father David at the inquest, and provided evidence at a subsequent parliamentary inquiry into military training exercises, said the Ministry of Defence ( MoD) had refused to accept corporate responsibility for deaths in training, exercises and selection events. Hilary Meredith, chairwoman at Hilary Meredith Solicitors and a visiting professor of law and veterans’ affairs at the University of Chester, said the MoD was “ignor- ing the will of a parliamentary inquiry and flying in the face of public opinion in the process”.
“In any other corporate environment the employer, in this case the Ministry of Defence ( MoD), would take corporate responsibility and face a manslaughter charge,” she said. Her colleague, director of the firm Clare Stevens, said it should be the MoD in the dock and accused it of “looking for scapegoats”.
From left: Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, Lance Corporal Edward Maher and Corporal James Dunsby