Mid Wales

Royal Marine's Brecon Beacons death 'natural causes'

Brecon Beacons
Image caption Benjamin Poole had been on a mountain yomp in the Brecon Beacons before he collapsed

A Royal Marine died from natural causes while on a special forces selection course in the Brecon Beacons, an inquest has found.

Benjamin Poole, 25, from Jersey, collapsed at the end of an 18 mile (29km) mountain yomp on 28 July, 2008.

The inquest in Brecon, Powys, heard that Mr Poole died from a suspected cardiac arrest.

He was carrying a 20kg rucksack and a rifle when he collapsed just before the final checkpoint in the Brecon Beacons.

The inquest heard that he was among a group of soldiers punished for dropping a chocolate wrapper the day before his death.

He was sent on a five-minute punishment run doing laps of an army base for littering the Brecon Beacons during training.

He was then told to complete the mountain yomp, but collapsed about 0.7 km (about 0.4 miles) from the final checkpoint.

The inquest heard that Mr Poole volunteered for the "arduous" selection process and was in the top 10% of 200 recruits.

An special forces instructor told the inquest: "The course is designed to develop robust mental and physical fitness.

'Pressure to perfom'

"This is a hard course where candidates are under pressure to perform and standards are high. It is very demanding."

The inquest heard that before setting out on their march, recruits were sent on a five-minute punishment run, doing laps of a 500m circuit after litter was found the previous day.

An instructor, identified only as soldier two, said in a statement: "They had been warned about littering at the start of the course. We didn't shout at them during the run."

A person described as soldier three told the inquest: "In response to the littering all students were sent on a run, the distance of a few hundred metres. This would have taken about five minutes, I wouldn't regard it as a punishment."

The inquest heard Mr Poole was a "high achieving, high performing" recruit tipped to fulfil his dream of joining the special forces.

He was three days from finishing the four-week selection programme in the Brecon Beacons when the tragedy happened in July 2008.

Lt Col Frederick Kemp told the inquest: "Marine Poole has been issued with a locator beacon system carried by each student which emits a signal giving their location.

"Staff at the final checkpoint requested a plot on the beacon and it showed he was 700m south west of the checkpoint."

Instructors raised the alarm because Mr Poole, one of the quickest troops, had not arrived.

A post-mortem examination failed to pinpoint a cause of death, but later medical tests showed Mr Poole, based in Hamworthy Barracks in Dorset, suffered heart failure.

Lt Col Kemp said systems had been changed so if another recruit failed to arrive on time a search party would be sent earlier.

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