Soldier died after army 'beasting'

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A soldier died of heatstroke after being subjected to an army punishment known as "beasting", a court was told yesterday.

Pte Gavin Williams, 22, collapsed as he was being walked to the base medical centre at Lucknow Barracks in Tidworth, Winchester Crown Court was told. Lying on the ground, he told three colleagues overseeing his punishment, which consisted of "exhausting physical activity", that he was "cooking up".

Mark Dennis, QC, said Pte Williams was suffering from hyperthermia. Within half an hour he had a heart attack and was pronounced dead an hour and a half later.

Sgt Russell Price, 45, of 2 Rifles and Sgt Paul Blake, 37, and Cpl John Edwards, 33, both from 2nd Battalion The Royal Welsh Regiment, who allegedly carried out the "beasting", deny manslaughter.

Pte Williams, from Hengoed in South Wales, died on 3 July 2006, one of the hottest days of the summer. Mr Dennis said beasting was "a form of summary justice" intended to humiliate and hurt the recipient.

The trial heard how a soldier who saw the beasting said he heard Pte Williams say he could not go on.

Mr Dennis said the punishment came after a weekend of drunken antics preceded by a raft of other disciplinary breaches.

When Pte Williams was taken to hospital, tests showed his body temperature was abnormally high.

The case continues.