Marines sentenced over bottom spanking ritual

Four decorated marines have been given suspended jail sentences for failing to stop assaults in a hazing ritual.

Sgt Richard Melia, Sgt Ian Spence, Cpl Robert Wake and Cpl John Arnett all admitted to four counts of failing to perform their public duty.

They were each given a four-month prison sentence suspended for a year.

The complaints relate to the "reefing" of junior ranks - hitting each other's backsides with a 2ft wrist support nicknamed "Big Red".

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The offences occurred during celebrations of the Royal Marine Corp's 350th anniversary on 28 October 2014.

The court martial at Portsmouth Naval Base also ruled Wake and Melia should be dismissed from the services - Spence and Arnett having already left.

Difficulty sitting down

Judge Advocate Robert Hill said it was not "character building", but a "calculated course of conduct designed to inflict gratuitous violence on new joiners".

He said: "You failed, each of you, to stop it... with rank comes responsibility and in this case you failed to discharge your responsibility."

The court martial heard the accused "encouraged" the activities which left four marines with bruising and cuts to their bottoms and difficulty sitting down and lying on their backs for two weeks.

Up to 50 marines had gathered at a bar at the 42 Commando barracks at Bickleigh, near Plymouth.

There they would take turns to tell a story or sing a song to entertain the others with failure leading to being hit with "Big Red".

Lt Col Victoria Phillips, prosecuting, said: "They were struck on bare backsides by an implement called Big Red.

"Big Red, kept behind the J company bar, was a red plastic rubber gel wrist support ordinarily used for wrist support when using a computer keyboard."

The number of hits was determined by a throw of a die.

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