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Beasting soldier's mum fights on as Army rules out courts martial.

Byline: Rhiannon Beacham

THE Army yesterday ruled out court martialling military personnel involved in the death of a Welsh soldier "beasted" to death in extreme heat.

Private Gavin Williams died during an unofficial Army punishment known as a beasting on one of the hottest days of 2006.

The 22-year-old, of the Second Battalion the Royal Welsh Regiment, developed heatstroke after the ordeal and died of a heart attack.

It was announced yesterday that an independent panel investigating the case recommended no formal charges should be pursued.

During a trial at Winchester Crown Court last year, the prosecution said Pte Williams, from Hengoed, near Caerphilly, was put through an intense session of physical exercise at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire, to punish him for disobedience.

Provost Sergeant Russell Price, 46, of 2 Rifles, physical training instructor Sergeant Paul Blake, 37, and Corporal John Edwards, 33, both from the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Regiment, were all cleared of his manslaughter.

But following their acquittal in July last year the judge, Mr Justice Royce, launched a stinging attack on the Army for allowing soldiers to undergo the unofficial punishments.

The judge also criticised the fact that three non-commissioned officers (NCOs) were placed in the dock while their commander, the adjutant Captain Mark Davis, who ordered that Pte Williams be brought to him "hot and sweaty", was in the process of being promoted.

After the trial, the Royal Military Police conducted a full investigation into Pte Williams' death to examine whether there were any breaches of military law and referred their findings to the Service Prosecuting Authority.

An MoD spokesman said yesterday that the process had been completed, with a decision taken not to pursue any charges against those involved.

He said: "We can confirm that the independent Service Prosecuting Authority has decided not to direct court martial proceedings in this case. Administrative action will now be considered and it would be inappropriate to comment further."

Following the trial, Pte Williams' mother Debra pledged to "continue fighting for justice for Gavin". Ms Williams is considering a judicial review to overturn the decision.

She said: "It would not be a difficult decision if I was rich. I want to keep fighting this, but it is a big decision." She hopes administrative action will now be taken by the Army and the men will face disciplinary proceedings.

She said: "It was wrong and it was not supposed to take place. It is absolutely disgusting. I am not going to lie down and let them walk all over me, and Gavin too. He did not deserve that.

"I am going to do my best to keep fighting. I am worried that, if I don't keep fighting, it could happen to someone else."

She is campaigning against beasting, and has set up a website stopbeastingsinthearmy.com

CAPTION(S):

CAMPAIGNER: Debra Williams, mum of Private Gavin Williams TRAGIC DEATH: Private Gavin Williams developed heatstroke
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 30, 2009
Words:485
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