Brecon Beacons
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Special Forces Soldiers Acquitted Over Deaths Of Three Reservists

They have been acquitted at a court martial in Bulford of negligence over a Brecon Beacons march in which three reservists died in 2013.

Brecon Beacons

The test march took place in the Brecon Beacons in July 2013 (Picture: PA).

Two Special Forces soldiers have been acquitted of negligence over a Brecon Beacons march in which three reservists died in 2013.

The men, known only as 1A and 1B, denied the allegation that they failed to take reasonable care for the health and safety of candidates taking part in the 16-mile march on 13 July 2013.

The judge ruled that the defendants had no case to answer.

Speaking at a court martial in Bulford, Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett, who made the direction, said: "The two defendants did the best they could with the culture that existed at the time and the lack of training that they had.

"There is no evidence of negligent performance of duty when the actions of these servicemen are compared to what a 'reasonable' serviceman would do in such circumstances."

Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, 24, and LCpl Edward Maher, 31, were pronounced dead on the Welsh mountain range after suffering heatstroke on 13 July 2013.

Corporal James Dunsby, also 31, died at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital from multiple organ failure more than two weeks later.

Following the deaths, a number of inquiries identified systemic failures but prosecutors alleged that the defendants' had committed fundamental and basic errors on a personal error.

1A and 1B, whose identities are protected by an anonymity order, released a statement on Tuesday:

"The test for military negligence is whether they fell below the standard of a reasonable serviceman with their training knowledge and experience.

"The prosecution said that these defendants had not set up a safe test system for the candidates. The defendants have always maintained that they did their duty diligently and conscientiously and they have now been vindicated."

'I miss my husband every day'

The statement by 1A and 1B continues: "The judge has set out in great detail how the defendants did their best to provide a safe test system and even how they tried to stop the marches continuing on to the second day yet were overruled.

"The wider organisational failings that resulted in a Crown Censure of the Ministry of Defence were not attributable to these defendants.

"They again express their condolences to the families of the three servicemen."

The servicemen, who were the safety officers for the march, were acquitted by a five-person board on the direction of Jeff Blackett, Judge Advocate General.

Prosecuting, Louis Mably QC said he would not seek leave to appeal the judge's decision that the defendants had no case to answer.

An Army Spokesperson said: “Our thoughts remain with the families and friends of Cpl James Dunsby, LCpl Craig Roberts and Tpr Edward Maher at this difficult time.

“The safety and wellbeing of our personnel remains our top priority and following these tragic events we have made a number of changes, particularly in relation to heat stress and training, to ensure an incident like this does not happen again."

The trial started at the Court Martial Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire, last Monday.