South East Wales

Gavin Williams inquest: Beasting soldier help 'not urgent'

Pte Gavin Williams Image copyright PA
Image caption Pte Gavin Williams was serving with the Second Battalion of the Royal Welsh Regiment

Army medics did not consider a soldier as an "urgent" case after he collapsed on one of the hottest days of the year, an inquest has heard.

A doctor who treated Pte Gavin Williams said she was not told he was dehydrated after a so-called "beasting".

Pte Williams, 22, from Hengoed, Caerphilly county, was made to do intense exercise as punishment at for a series of drunken incidents in 2006.

He later died from heart failure in hospital as a result of heatstroke.

The drug ecstasy was in his blood at the time of his death at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire, on 3 July 2006, the inquest in Salisbury was told.

Dr Rowena French helped treat Pte Williams in the medical centre at the barracks when he felt unwell, and said she had been aware "beasting" took the form of physical training on camp.

Dr French said Pte Williams had claimed to be passing blood in his urine, but she had not been informed about him collapsing or complaining of stomach pain - so she did not have heat injury in mind.

Image caption Sgt Paul Blake, Sgt Russell Price and Cpl John Edwards were cleared of manslaughter

"It wasn't portrayed to me at the time as being any great emergency… it was standard," she said.

The coroner, Judge Alan Large, said: "I think it's fair to say that if everyone had been told everything that day then medical staff would have been much better equipped to deal with what was going on."

The inquest was told Dr French was advised Pte Williams may be aggressive and she should have someone else with her while treating him.

Asked if she felt her colleagues thought Pte Williams was exaggerating his illness, Dr French said she could not remember.

A nurse previously told police she heard the duty doctor, Mark Derbyshire, say Pte Williams was faking it.

Dr Derbyshire told the hearing it was "quite clear" in his mind he did not say Pte Williams was faking his illness.

He said to his knowledge no "lessons learned" exercise was carried out at the camp after the incident, and there were no discussions with the family after Pte Williams's death.

The MoD has said it has carried out several reviews of the incident since Sgt Paul Blake, Sgt Russell Price and Cpl John Edwards, who were involved in the beasting, were cleared of manslaughter charges in 2008.

The hearing continues.

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