Tayside and Central Scotland

US soldiers 'must be held accountable' for Black Watch captain's death

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Media captionLinda Sprouting says Dean was doing as he would every day - following the designated running path

The widow of an army captain killed by a forklift truck on a military base in Iraq said the US soldiers responsible must be "held accountable".

Dean Sprouting, who served with the Black Watch, was hit by the vehicle while out jogging in January 2018.

The soldiers faced three charges including negligent homicide but an American Brigadier General ruled these be dropped.

Capt Sprouting's wife said it was as if her husband's life "didn't matter."

Linda Sprouting spoke following a military inquest into her husband's death in Oxford last week.

The inquest coroner concluded that Capt Sprouting's death was accidental.

The US had jurisdiction as to whether any prosecution was warranted over the incident.

Image caption Capt Dean Sprouting was married with two sons

The father of two, who was from Denny, near Falkirk, was stationed at Al Asad Air Base at the time of his death.

Neither of the US National Guardsmen involved in the incident attended the inquest.

Mrs Sprouting told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "The coroner had ruled it was an accident but it was close to unlawful killing.

"But because he was bound by the legal procedures it didn't fit one of the criteria, but it was very close."

Image copyright Linda Sprouting
Image caption Linda and Dean Sprouting were married for 25 years

Mrs Sprouting said she accepted her husband's death had been an accident, but it was a "totally avoidable accident."

She said Capt Sprouting was following the base's designated running route stipulated by the US.

Mrs Sprouting said: "[The soldiers] were transporting an ISO (shipping) container but the vehicles that they chose were totally unsuitable for that procedure and with the distance they were travelling."

She said the windscreen wipers of the escort vehicle were stuck in the middle, obscuring the driver's view.

Image caption Capt. Sprouting was jogging at the Al Asad Air Base at the time of the accident

Mrs Sprouting said: "There was no radio communication, there was no groundsman on the road walking with them to direct them or give them any indication.

"If you were driving on a frosty morning and your windscreen was obscured by frost and you were to hit somebody and killed them you'd be held accountable for dangerous driving."

Mrs Sprouting now wants meetings with the Ministry of Defence and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

She said: "It's a duty of care really.

"If you can't protect our servicemen and women from foreign policies then we shouldn't really be working with the US to protect our servicemen and women."

Image copyright Ministry of Defence
Image caption Capt Sprouting's repatriation took place at RAF Brize Norton

Mrs Sprouting said the 22 months since her husband's death had been "devastating" for her and the couple's two sons.

She said: "The boys have struggled with it because they've lost their father, I've lost my husband of 25 years,

"To serve 27 years for Queen and country and do various operational tours of duty and then kind of be sidelined really, as if his life didn't count for anything, didn't matter."

'Liaised closely'

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "Our deepest sympathies remain with the family and friends of Captain Dean Sprouting at this very difficult time.

"When British forces are based overseas, either on UK or coalition bases, they come under strict policies and procedures to ensure that any health and safety risks on base are mitigated and kept as low as possible.

"We liaised closely with the US investigatory authorities throughout their investigation."

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