Navy sacks two ratings for mock hanging

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The Independent Online
TWO Royal Navy engineers were dismissed from the service yesterday for staging the mock hanging of a shipmate who was discovered hanged in woodlands six months later.

Daniel Beckett and Andrew Hurst, junior ratings, were also given three months detention but were told they were not responsible for the death of Justin White.

The 21-year-old marine engineering mechanic, from Swansea, was foung hanged near Plymouth six months after the incident on the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious.

An inquest into Mr White's death will be held in Plymouth on Wednesday, and is expected to be attended by his mother Patricia, who left yesterday's hearing in Plymouth without comment.

Beckett and Hurst, whose ages and addresses were not given, admitted assaulting Mr White on 12 November last year.

After sentence, the Judge Advocate, Commander Jeffrey Blackett told them: 'The court considers your actions thoughtless, dangerous and cowardly. The court is satisfied you were not responsible for White's death . . . However, the court considers what you did was a severe form of bullying which the Royal Navy will not tolerate.'

In July, two months after he joined Illustrious, Mr White's superiors became aware he had tried to hang himself, and he was referred to a Navy psychiatrist. He was subjected to taunts and verbal abuse, Lt Cmdr Roderick Blain, for the prosecution, said.

He said Beckett made a noose, saying he would hang Mr White. Beckett put the noose over Mr White's head and drew it tight, while Hurst passed the other end over a beam, Lt Cmdr Blain said. Hurst pulled the end, forcing White to stand on tip- toes, causing 'considerable discomfort and distress'.

The defence solicitor, Sandy Morrison, said the incident was a joke that went too far.