Soldiers fined after 'prank' injures naked officer

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The Independent Online

Three soldiers have been fined after leaving an officer with "nasty" injuries when they tied him up and carried him naked from his bedroom in a drunken "prank".

Corporal Paul Kingswood, Lance Corporal Mark Foster and Lance Corporal Matthew Stenton were at a party at a barracks in Germany after their return from Iraq when they were "put up" to the prank by an army captain.

They dragged the officer from his bed and, in the struggle to carry him outside, ripped off his boxer shorts and caused him to suffer carpet burns to his torso, elbow and knee.

The three soldiers, who were serving with a cavalry regiment based in Germany, pleaded guilty to conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline at a court martial at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, yesterday.

The court heard the incident happened on May 22 last year, three days after the regiment returned from Iraq.

Lieutenant Colonel David Frend, prosecuting officer, said a "large amount of alcohol" had been consumed by both officers and soldiers during a barbecue at the barracks before the captain invited the three defendants, among others, back to the officers' mess.

The court heard it was "virtually unheard of" for a captain to make such an invitation.

The captain, who was second in command in the squadron, took the defendants to the annexe to bring another officer out to continue the party, but left them as they entered the room of the complainant, who was said to be in a "drunken stupor".

Lt Col Frend said: "It was an idea induced by alcohol, a prank."

The three soldiers tied the hands of the officer with a tie and his legs with a dressing gown belt and tried to lift him, ripping his boxer shorts off in the process and leaving him naked.

In the struggle to lift and carry him, the officer was injured.

Having taken him outside and laid him on steps, the three soldiers were found by the captain, and the officer was taken back to his bed and put in the recovery position because of the amount of alcohol he had drunk.

Kingswood, 25, was fined £1,000, while Foster, 24, and Stenton, 22, were fined £700 each.

The court heard the captain involved in the incident was also arrested and interviewed in connection with the matter but was never charged and has since left the Army.

Sentencing the three soldiers, Assistant Judge Advocate General Paul Camp said: "To an extent, you were put up to this prank by an officer who has escaped disciplinary action.

"This may have seemed funny to you in drink but didn't seem funny to the victim.

"By then, this ceased to be a prank. It had become a nasty incident. It was a nasty incident in which he suffered nasty carpet burns.

"It showed a lack of respect to an officer. To behave in this way undermines discipline and respect for the British Army."

Judge Camp said Kingswood received a higher fine because he was the most senior of the soldiers.