Soldier, 19, is cleared of murder

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The Independent Online
A SOLDIER who shot dead his company sergeant walked free yesterday after receiving a two-year suspended sentence.

Private Jason Chilton, 19, of the Staffordshire Regiment, was found not guilty of murdering Sergeant Dean Oliver, 30, from Chester, but guilty of manslaughter.

Chilton, from Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, who denied murder, told the Crown Court in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, that Sgt Oliver had beaten him up hours before his death.

The court was told that Chilton had been in Northern Ireland for only five days before the fatal shooting on 9 May last year. He said he had been playing with the safety-catch of his automatic rifle when it fired 14 rounds, 7 of them striking the sergeant. 'I was stunned when it went off. I should have been more careful. I wish I had checked it,' Chilton said.

Earlier, the court was told that Sgt Oliver had taken Chilton round the back of a garage and when the private re-emerged his nose was bleeding and his eyes swollen.