Soldiers to be quizzed by police over Brecon Beacons death
POLICE investigating the deaths of three Army reservists, including Swindon soldier Corporal James Dunsby, on the Brecon Beacons are set to interview almost 100 soldiers as they expand their investigation.
Edward John Maher, 31, Craig John Roberts, 24, and 31-year-old Cpl Dunsby died while taking part in a gruelling SAS selection exercise on one of the hottest days of the year. A number of other soldiers also collapsed and needed medical attention.
It is thought the group were carrying out an exercise known as the ‘Fan Dance’, which involves marching up 886-metre high Pen y Fan mountain and down the other side carrying a weighted pack and rifle, then doing the route in reverse, in a set time.
Dyfed Powys Police launched an investigation into the deaths, with the Health and Safety Executive and Civil Police Force on standby.
A separate fact-finding mission by a coroner is under way, with human rights legislation being used to see whether the soldiers should have been better protected.
Detective Inspector Iwan Jones told a pre-inquest review hearing at Aberdare Coroner’s Court that it would take weeks to conclude the interview process.
He said: “Having reviewed some of the evidence we have decided to expand the investigation. We are aiming to have statements from a substantial number of soldiers – between 94 and 96 – emergency service personnel and members of the public.
“We are still waiting for all of the soldiers’ accounts from the Army – there have been logistical problems as some of these are now serving abroad.”
The South Wales mountain range is one of several locations the British military uses for training and on July 13, as temperatures hit 29.5C, emergency crews were called to Pen y Fan amid reports that six soldiers had collapsed, suffering from heat exhaustion.
Witnesses said they had seen soldiers looking exhausted and making a desperate plea for water.
Qualified teacher Lance Corporal Roberts, of Penrhyn Bay, near Llandudno, was pronounced dead on the mountainside, while Lance Corporal Maher and Corporal Dunsby were taken to hospital.
L/Cpl Maher died three hours later in Merthyr Tydfil’s Prince Charles Hospital, while Cpl Dunsby, a political science graduate from Bath, who served with the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry A Squadron in Swindon, was transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham but was pronounced dead on July 30.
Police said they hoped to reach a decision in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service about criminal charges by the end of October.
Ms Hunt said the next pre-inquest hearing will take place on November 19 and that a full inquest - expected to last for up to two weeks - will take place in the new year.