Soldier jailed for firing rifle in struggle

An army colour sergeant who terrified another soldier with a loaded AK-47 assault rifle that he fired during a struggle to disarm him was today jailed for six years.

Matthew Wells, 42, who was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, took the loaded gun and three grenades in a holdall to a meeting with Regimental Quartermaster Glen Martin, Winchester Crown Court was told.

James Kellam, prosecuting, said Wells became agitated in the meeting in Gibraltar Barracks, Camberley, Surrey, on November 13 last year over a misunderstanding about the treatment of another soldier Lance Sergeant Susan Reynolds.

Wells then reached into his holdall, took out the assault rifle, cocked it and pointed it at Mr Martin.

Mr Kellam said that Mr Martin reacted immediately.

"His first action was to strike the gun barrel with his left hand before jumping across his desk and grabbing the barrel of the weapon, keeping it pointed away from him."

Wells then fired the rifle as the men fought and the court was told the burst discharged seven rounds, one of which is likely to have passed through Mr Martin's uniform.

"Bullets struck the wall from one side of the room to the other," Mr Kellam said.

The shooting only stopped when the gun jammed and Mr Martin overpowered Wells and disarmed him.

The Quartermaster suffered a compound dislocated finger during the struggle.

In police interview, Wells said he wanted to scare Mr Martin before killing himself.

The court heard other magazines of bullets were found in the holdall and in his room and the gun was not British issue.

Wells had served in all major conflicts since the Falklands and until a few weeks before he had been posted to the Civilian Military Co-operation Group CIMIC in Afghanistan.

In mitigation the court heard Wells was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident and that he had a "exemplary" military career.

At the time of the offences he was a territorial soldier serving on a regular army contract.

Wells admitted possessing the firearm with intent to cause fear of violence at an earlier hearing. He also pleaded guilty to having three grenades in his possession.

Sentencing him to six years for the firearm offence and two years concurrent for the possession of the grenades, Mr Justice Butterfield said the incident had been a "grave offence" but he had taken into consideration his illness and military career when deciding sentence.

Speaking after the hearing, the investigating officer, Detective Constable Susan Hyland said that Mr Martin had been terrified.

"This could have had potentially disastrous consequences but they were avoided by the quick actions of Glen Martin."

Voices
A Russian hunter at the Medved bear-hunting lodge in Siberia
Save the tigerWildlife charities turn to those who kill animals to help save them
News
Davis says: 'My career has been about filling a niche - there were fewer short actors and fewer roles – but now I'm being offered all kinds of things'
PeopleWarwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
News
i100
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Life and Style
A small bag of the drug Ecstasy
Health
Life and Style
Floral-print swim shorts, £26, by Topman, topman.com; sunglasses, £215, by Paul Smith, mpaulsmith.co.uk
FashionBag yourself the perfect pair
News
news
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Extras
indybest
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

How has your club fared in summer sales?

Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

The best swim shorts for men

Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup