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The death of Gavin Williams intensified the scrutiny of how the army treats its soldiers.

Although there are official rules and regulations for disciplining army personnel, those that step out of line, as Pte Williams repeatedly did, could face a beasting.

The term - also known as being yakked or thrashed - is an extreme form of exercise to unofficially discipline a soldier for bad behaviour.

Pte Williams died after three senior noncommissioned officers put him through a beasting for disciplinary breaches, including getting drunk and squirting an officer's guests with a fire extinguisher following a summer ball.

The judge in the trial of the three soldiers acquitted in 2008 of Pte Williams' manslaughter said the practice of beasting "clearly falls outside appropriate military discipline".

During the inquest senior officers denied knowledge of any beastings, saying the military guidelines that came into force a year before Pte Williams' death were followed.

The rules made the unofficial exercise illegal while formalising the disciplinary system within the military by requiring paperwork for each punishment issued.

But soldiers told the inquest in Salisbury that beastings were "part of army life" and were a "regular occurrence".

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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 9, 2016
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