Kent

MoD censured over soldier's death on Lydd range

Fusilier Dean Griffiths Image copyright MOD
Image caption Fusilier Griffiths died at the scene at the Army firing range in Lydd

The Ministry of Defence has been censured over the death of a soldier who was shot in the neck during a training exercise.

Fusilier Dean Griffiths, 21, of First Battalion the Royal Welsh, died at Lydd Range, Kent in September 2011.

An inquest in 2013 heard a target was wrongly placed against a wall but there was no evidence it was malicious.

A Crown Censure is the maximum sanction the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can impose on a government body.

The MoD cannot be prosecuted in the same way as non-government bodies.

Fusilier Griffiths, from Market Drayton, Shropshire, whose partner was pregnant at the time of his death, was serving with the Chester-based battalion as it prepared to go to Afghanistan.

He died during a simulated combat exercise in a compound built to replicate an Afghan building.

Image caption Fusilier Dean Griffiths died on a training exercise at Lydd Range

The HSE said Fusilier Griffiths was part of an assault group assigned to enter and secure the compound.

The compound contained both enemy and civilian targets made from thin plywood to allow the live bullets to pass through and avoid ricochets.

The HSE said its investigation found unused targets were usually laid on the floor to give the appearance of debris, but on this occasion an unused target was left upright against a wall..

Fusilier Griffiths was behind that target when the wall was breached with a simulated explosion.

As a colleague entered he saw an enemy target and fired two shots, hitting Fusilier Griffiths with a bullet that passed through the incorrectly placed enemy target.

The soldier died at the scene.

HSE said its investigators found the exercise was undermanned.

It said the incident could have been prevented by not using targets as debris and with a final walk through by the Range Conducting Officer to ensure all targets corresponded to the planned exercise.

The MoD admitted breaching its duty under Section 2(1) and 2(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

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