The soldiers responsible for the organising and planning of an SAS test march in 2013 may face prosecution after a coroner has ruled three soldiers deaths were caused by neglect and failures of the Ministry of Defence.
The march took place around Pen y Fan in South Wales, the largest mountain in Southern Britain, where 78 men took part in the training scheme. Soldiers were given rucksacks weighing 22kg to carry and given the target of completing the climb within 8 hours and 48 minutes.
During the routine training exercise temperatures began to reach 30C and soldiers began to fall ill, Lance Corporals Craig Roberts, Edward Maher and Corporal James Dunsby died as a result of a severe heat illness which is now thought to have been caused by the failings of the MoD.
Coroner Louise Hunt found a number of serious errors made by soldiers who oversaw the march that lead to the deaths of the three soldiers.
Extensive research into the incident found that there were long delays before the men were spotted collapsed on the mountain side despite the fact that the soldiers were fitted with tracking devices that should have altered those in charge of the march.
An expert told the inquest that the training exercise should have been halted before the three men collapsed however it also emerged that several of those in charge of overseeing the march had not read the Ministry of Defence guidelines on dealing with heat illness.
Despite having the tracking system in place there was a two hour gap before Mr. Maher was found and over an hour before both Mr. Dunsby and Mr. Roberts were found by other candidates taking part in the march.
As a result of the inquest Hunt will be writing to the MoD to explain the lessons she believes need to be learned in order to prevent a similar tragedy happening again. The coroner also considered returning a conclusion of unlawful killing due to the evidence that was proposed at the hearing.
Mr. Dunsby’s widow, Bryher, shared her anger that her husband had been failed by the MoD: “They displayed no responsibility, no accountability, and no humility for their role in creating the culture which lead to the events on the 13 July 2013.
“Even an ounce of this would have gone such a long way in acknowledging the vast catalogue of errors which were so clearly made. James would have been so hugely disappointed by the behaviour of an organisation for which he had fought for and for which he ultimately lost his life.”