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...soldier left partially blind after violent ‘initiation ceremony’ at Army barracks.

In November 2016, our client was in the news talking about an incident that led to the loss of his military career. Oliver Scudder was left partially blind after a violent initiation ceremony. Oliver from Lincoln endured a volley of punches and a kick to the face during the attack at Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore in December 2014, leaving him with a hole in his right eye.

The 20-year-old instructed Paul Weston of our team after the prolonged attack left his right eye so badly damaged, that he lost 90 per cent of his vision and would no longer be able to serve his country.

Oliver joined the Royal Anglian Regiment on December 1 2014 after completing his Phase 2 Training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick. He was injured just nine days later and was medically downgraded by military officials in July 2015 before being medically discharged in May 6 2016.

In a letter from the Service Prosecuting Authority, Oliver was told that there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution against his attackers and instead, he now has to wait for his former commanding officer to decide on what punishment should be handed out. We launched legal action against the Ministry of Defence (MoD), who, as Oliver’s employer, owed him a duty of care.

Paul Weston, an expert military injuries lawyer and former Captain Intelligence Corps in our team, representing Oliver, said:

“Clearly being in the Armed Forces is a potentially dangerous vocation, but no soldier should face injury during downtime at their barracks – and not at the hands of members of their own regiment. In order to secure financial support for Oliver’s future now that he faces civilian life with severe sight loss, we have to pursue a claim against the MoD. Oliver needs support to help him not only adapt back to civilian life, but also to adapt to being left partially blind. It will have an impact on his future prospects and we are seeking to secure the help he needs to overcome his injuries.”

Oliver was just 15 years old when he went to the Army Careers Office to ask about joining the military, following in his older brother Harry’s footsteps. Two years later he enrolled on the Army Foundation Course in Harrogate, designed to help young would-be recruits prepare for joining up.

But his dreams of being a career soldier ended on December 10 2014 when, as a new member of 10 Platoon, C Company, he was told he must ‘run the gauntlet’ – an initiation ceremony in which new soldiers run down a corridor lined with their comrades who kick and punch them as they do so.

Oliver said: “I felt I had no choice. I could see a guy who’d just been through it and he looked shaken up, but not badly hurt so I felt I had to go through with it. The pressure was immense and I feared the consequences if I said no."

As Oliver ran the length of the corridor he tripped – or was tripped – falling to the floor. But the violence continued as he was kicked in the face. At the time, he was unsure of the extent of his injuries and believed he had got something in his eye.

It was not until later when Oliver was at home on annual leave that he went to see his family GP who advised him to report to the medical centre at RAF Waddington from where he was promptly referred to Lincoln Hospital and on to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham.

It was at Queen’s Medical Centre, where Oliver was given the devastating news that he had suffered a macular hole in his right eye but there was nothing medically that could be done further because the hole had healed and had left a scar. He had lost 90 per cent vision and would not be able to continue his military career.

Oliver said: “I’m devastated. The Army is all I ever wanted. I joined as soon as I could and wanted to fulfill my 22 years’ service. Instead I’ve been left with a sliver of peripheral vision in my right eye and no career in front of me. I’m angry that the military can let these guys get away with it when I have lost everything. There must be others like me, for whom the military was their life, who have been injured in similar circumstances. It must end."

Published: 18 July 2017

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