Soldier says Army 'hung him out to dry'

The experience was to prove disastrous. It landed Guardsman McGing before a court martial jury charged with killing an Iraqi boy who drowned after being forced into a river within six months of his arrival in Basra. Now cleared of killing Ahmed Jabar Karheem, aged 15, Guardsman McGing reflected yesterday on how Iraq had destroyed the career he cherished. "The biggest problem for us was that there was no law and order and we were soldiers, not policemen," he said. "We hadn't been trained to do this."

For a time, the Army had offered brighter prospects for a teenager who attended cadets without fail and left the Britannia High School in Rowley Regis, near Birmingham, with minimal qualifications. He had aspired to be a soldier since boyhood and he passed over the Grenadier Guards - the regiment of choice for many West Midlands boys - in favour of the Irish Guards.

Guardsman McGing is reluctant to discuss the May 2003 incident for which he was tried. (He, Guardsman Joseph McCleary and Colour Sergeant Carle Selman were accused of forcing the boy, who could not swim, into the Shatt al-Basra canal at gunpoint to "teach him a lesson" for suspected looting.

In evidence, the boy's friend, who was also thrown in, claimed they were pelted with stones. But, like the soldiers who were tried and convicted over abuse at Camp Breadbasket two years ago, Guardsman McGing insists that by "wetting" insurgents he was carrying out new army policy. "The idea was that once they were wet they had to walk home to change their clothes," he said. "It stopped them looting. We were doing what we were told to do and being led to do."

At his home in Bootle, Merseyside, Guardsman McCleary provided a similar explanation this week. "Looters were everywhere, there were too many of them for us and it was difficult to know how to handle them," he said. "We were told to put them in the canal. I was the lowest rank. We were always told we weren't paid to think. We just followed orders. We had a job to do, and it was so hectic."

The National Gulf War Veterans Association (NGWVA) said the case had demonstrated how junior soldiers were being blamed for decisions taken by senior officers in a theatre of conflict where insurgency was out of hand.

"The generals seem to give the orders, the men carry them out and the men carry the can when it all goes wrong," said Charles Plumeridge of the NGWVA.

"I disagreed with a lot of orders, but you always carry them out anyway. We never see the senior brass in the dock. It was the same after Breadbasket. They're just the ones who come home to be decorated."

Guardsman McCleary is through with Army. "It's like being in a tunnel," he said. He plans to go to college and follow a civilian career. Guardsman McGing will join the police. "The Army hung me out to dry," he said. "They put me in court and led to this hanging over me and my family for three years. They just wanted to put me into prison."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer / Web Designer

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future