The Army have recently been criticised for failing to identify the use of unofficial punishments which were taking place, known as “beastings”. The criticism comes following the conclusion of the Inquest into the death of Private Gavin Williams, 22, of Hengoed near Caerphilly, who was serving with 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh when he sadly died from heatstroke following his collapse on 3rd July 2006. The Coroner concluded that Pte Williams had been subjected to an informal session of intense physical exercise, known as a “beasting”. Upon his admission to hospital, Pte Williams’ body temperature was found to be a staggering 41.7 degrees, way above the average of 37 degrees.

A criminal investigation into the death of Pte Williams took place and Sergeant Russell Price, the Provost Sergeant in charge of discipline, and two of his colleagues, were cleared of manslaughter back in 2008.

Assistant Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner Alan Large heard more than 100 witnesses during the course of the Inquest and found that three non-commissioned officers attempted to punish him for disobedience and a series of drunken incidents.

The Army’s head of Personnel Services, Brigadier John Donnelly, released a statement at the conclusion of the Inquest apologising for their failings that led to Pte Williams’ death. Mr Donnelly stated that:

“We acknowledge that there was a culture of unofficial punishments with the 2 Royal Welsh at the time of Gavin’s death. This is unacceptable and was unacceptable. We have already conducted our own inquiry into the incident and made a number of improvements to try and ensure that it does not happen again which the Coroner has recognised.”

Here at Farleys we have a department that specialises in Inquest work. We are regularly asked to represent both the families of people who have died and also any interested parties. If you need any help or advice in relation to an Inquest, please do not hesitate to contact one of our inquest solicitors today.