The British army has apologised to the family of a young soldier who died of heat illness after being subjected to an unlawful punishment known as “beasting” at a Wiltshire barracks.
Gavin Williams, a member of 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh Regiment, collapsed in 2006 after being forced to take part in vigorous marches and then work out in a gym on a searingly hot summer’s day.
After a six-week inquest, the coroner ruled on Friday that the “beasting” was unlawful and concluded that the “chain of command” knew – or at least should have known – the practice was taking place.
Alan Large also said he believed Williams, 22, who was punished for setting off a fire extinguisher during an officers’ ball, could have been saved had his fellow soldiers recognised he was suffering from heat illness.
Outside Salisbury coroner’s court an army spokesman said it accepted there was a “culture of unofficial punishments” at the time of Williams’ death.
Army let all of us down, says mother of soldier who died after 'beasting'
Brigadier John Donnelly, the army’s head of personal services, said: “I apologise for the failings that led to Gavin’s death and accept responsibility for them.
“Our thoughts are with Gavin’s family and friends, particularly his mother, Debra, her partner, Adrian, and Gavin’s sister, Zeta. This inquest has been a difficult time for them and I pay tribute to the dignity that they have shown.
“We acknowledge that there was a culture of unofficial punishments within 2 R 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 to ensure that it does not happen again, which the coroner has recognised.
“We will now study the coroner’s conclusion carefully to ensure we continue to do all that we can to prevent such a tragedy occurring in the future, for which we are truly sorry.”
Williams’ mother, who has campaigned for almost a decade to find out what happened to her son, said he had been the victim of “inhuman and degrading” treatment.
“What happened to Gavin was wrong, plain and simple. He was killed by the way in which his fellow soldiers chose to punish him unlawfully – to beast him – for nothing more than a silly prank. The nature of that beasting was so inhuman and degrading that it cannot be tolerated in any civilised world.
“The coroner’s conclusions and findings demand urgent and careful attention of the highest ranks within the army and I look to them to act on those findings without delay.”
Described as a “gentle giant”, Williams found himself in trouble after setting off the extinguisher during a drunken night at Lucknow barracks in July 2006.
The battalion adjutant, Capt Mark Davis, ordered that Williams be brought before him “hot and sweaty”. On one of the hottest days of the year, Williams was “yakked” – forced to take part in vigorous exercise that involved him marching at quick pace and on the spot.
He was then taken to Davis, who stripped him of his regimental cap badge. Next he was marched to a gym where he was forced to do yet more exercise and taken back to a guardroom carrying a weighted bag.
Williams collapsed but the two soldiers with him, both of whom had served in Iraq, did not recognise he had a heat illness, wrongly believing that it was not possible to suffer the condition in the UK. The coroner said: “I’m satisfied if a diagnosis of heat injury had been made at this early stage and timely treatment provided Gavin would have survived.”
Williams became violent and was put in handcuffs. A doctor, who had not been told about the exercise he had done, concluded his symptoms were psychological rather than physical.
He later died in hospital where tests showed that his temperature had soared to 41.7C, well above the norm of 37C. The coroner said Williams died from a combination of exertion, hyperthermia, restraint and use of ecstasy, traces of which were found in his body.
Large made it clear he had concluded “beasting” was an unlawful punishment. He said it involved no paperwork, no risk assessment and no chance for the subject to make representations.
During the inquest, officers including Capt Davis, who is now a lieutenant colonel, said they did not know “beasting” was taking place. But the coroner said there had been no attempt to hide the practice from superiors.
He said he was satisfied Davis did know informal punishments were happening, and it was “most unlikely” that other officers did not also know. He said he believed “beastings” took place around once a week.
Delivering a narrative conclusion, Large said: “Gavin died as the result of the imposition of unofficial physical punishment in the form of a marching drill and physical exercise conducted on a very hot day.
“This punishment was part of a system of such unofficial punishments operating in the battalion which the chain of command failed to identify or prevent.”
Large told the inquest that after Williams’ death there had been clarification over the sort of drills and gym sessions that soldiers could be ordered to take part in, and risk assessments must now be carried out. Changes had also been made to how soldiers were taught about heat illness.
The Williams inquest has re-focused attention on the British army’s understanding of the condition. The topic hit the headlines last year when an inquest heard how three highly fit SAS recruits had collapsed and died during a test on the Brecon Beacons on a hot day.
The issue of army culture will come to the fore again next month when a new inquest is held into the death of Pte Cheryl James, 18, who was one of four recruits who died of gunshot wounds at Deepcut barracks in Surrey between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse.
The Use of Corporal Punishment in Schools Essays
1851 Words8 Pages
Recently, as the value of education is increasing, corporal punishment became hot issue on the world because there is no any appropriate answer about” Should corporal punishment be for discipline?” According to a history of corporal punishment of Wikipedia, the practice was recorded as early as c 10th Century BC in Míshlê Shlomoh. Even though corporal punishment is not correct way for discipline like people usually think, how the punishment has been used so far or why?
On a student’s cell phone, a teacher is caught hitting students with a thick stick. He continually hits everywhere from, the students’ hips to the head, harshly without a hesitation. This video is posted to the public video sharing site called…show more content…
The effect of the corporal punishment
Some people believe that teachers’ using physical punishment is the most effective way to educate students because they believe it brings a very quick response, which is actually true. Some may argue that corporal punishment helps straighten out children’s bad behavior fast. However, when people are hit or feel some other sort of pain, they immediately stop the behavior because nobody likes the feeling of pain. It has immediate results. To make it clear, let me give you an example from Korea. When a young student starts smoking, teachers in Korea choose to give physical punishment to correct the student’s bad behavior. Teachers want to put an end to it as soon as possible because making someone stop smoking is very difficult. For those reasons, they need strong discipline to force them to stop smoking as quickly as possible. The student could stop smoking if the teacher uses physical punishment. The teacher may punish the student periodically for a month or so, knowing that for that month the student would not smoke. This may be enough time for the student to stop the wrong habit. Though the immediate effects of physical punishment are useful, they may not be long lasting. Still, people never know what happened to that student later in life because of the punishment that he received. He may have started smoking later after