South East Wales

Gavin Williams inquest: Concerns raised before soldier's death

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

Concerns were raised about "mistreatment" before the death of a soldier subjected to intense beasting exercise, an inquest has heard.

Pte Gavin Williams, 22, from Hengoed, Caerphilly county, suffered heart failure at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire, on 3 July 2006.

He had been punished for disobedience and drunken incidents.

A captain at the time said he raised issues about another physical punishment a month before.

Owain Luke, now a lieutenant colonel, told the inquest in Salisbury, Wiltshire, that while Sgt Russell Price was involved in both incidents, it was "more akin to bullying" than reflective of wider treatment.

Lt Col Luke said he raised concerns with Adjutant Capt Mark Davis, the officer in charge of discipline.

'Wrong'

He said he told the captain "two of my soldiers had been mistreated by provost staff or PTIs (Physical Training Instructor) and that this is wrong and he should look into it".

It was the only such incident he had been aware of before, Col Luke said.

His soldiers, he added, had been ordered by Sgt Price to carry out a physical punishment which resulted in their civilian clothes being ruined.

The coroner's court previously heard that Sgt Price ordered Pte Williams to carry out intensive exercise in a gym on one of the hottest days of the year.

Pte Williams collapsed with heatstroke and later suffered heart failure after the punishment. Ecstasy was found in his blood when he died in hospital.

Lt Col Luke said he got the impression Capt Davis felt physical punishment was appropriate "under some circumstances".

He added: "It's easy to see now that it might be part of a wider treatment, but I didn't see it like that at the time."

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

Sgt Price's line manager, Maj Lee Davies, said he knew nothing about beastings being carried out.

The coroner's court heard Sgt Price had previously told police investigating Pte Williams's death that "everyone knew that it went on" and "physical discipline was never done in a discrete manner".

In a statement to officers, he added: "The adjutant and the RSM (regimental sergeant major) never asked me to stop."

Maj Davies said he felt Sgt Price was still in an "old mentality" before Army rules on discipline changed in 2005, but he had made it clear when he took up his role in 2006 there should be no physical punishments.

"He's right, I didn't tell him to stop, but I didn't know he was doing it."

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