Inquest Critical Of SAS Brecon Beacons Planning

Lawyers Say ‘Balance Needed Between Realism and Safety’ To Protect Our Troops

14.07.2015

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Specialist military injuries lawyers at Irwin Mitchell say the deaths of three army reservists on an SAS exercise on the Brecon Beacons highlights the need to balance realistic training with the safety of troops.

At an inquest which concluded today (14 July) Senior Birmingham Coroner Louise Hunt was critical of both the planning and the response to the situation.

Ms Hunt said a lack of build-up marches contributed to the deaths of the reservists and ruled that checkpoint staff had missed signs of heat illness in one of the victims.

Lance corporals Edward Maher and Craig Roberts were both pronounced dead on the Brecon Beacons after suffering heatstroke in July 2013. Corporal James Dunsby died at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital from multiple organ failure more than two weeks later.

The inquest also heard that there were problems with the response communications which relied on mobile phones to dial 999 contributing to a delay in getting to the casualties.

Ms Hunt told the court: "I consider that the risk assessment was not adequate for the march being undertaken.”

Expert Opinion
“This tragic incident highlights the need to balance the running of realistic training exercises with keeping troops, and in particular reservists, safe. Training injuries account for the majority of serious injuries within the armed forces and now is the time to ensure that more is done to keep our troops safe.

“Risk assessments have to be dynamic and adapted depending on what challenges are presented at the time. We have several cases involving changing weather conditions and whether or not the risk assessments were refreshed to reflect the new conditions. We need to have respect for the weather in the UK, it is common to see soldiers affected by the weather in more extreme conditions such as Iraq and Afghanistan in the colder climates, but we do also have problems with weather at home too.

“Those who carry a supervisory role need training to be able to recognise the basic signs of potential problems – it is worrying that many of those involved seemed to be unaware of the signs of heat injuries."
Geraldine McCool, Partner

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in Military Injuries Claims including Fatal Military Claims.