Chippenham soldier's widow attacks army's drinking culture
Young widow Shawni Murgatroyd, 21, has told how the Army’s binge-drinking culture took the life of her husband.
An inquest on Tuesday heard Andrew Murgatroyd, 21, died after consuming 16 shots in 45 minutes at the Buckley Barracks mess.
Mr Murgatroyd, a private in the Royal Logistics Corps, was pronounced dead about an hour after downing a second ‘top shelf’ – a cocktail of all eight top shelf spirits.
Wiltshire assistant coroner Ian Singleton will write to defence secretary Philip Hammond with his concern in the hope of preventing similar deaths.
He said: “I am concerned the culture that appears to have existed, to ply someone with alcohol to such an extent, that the practice might not be limited to Buckley Barracks or to Wiltshire.
“I propose to make a report to the defence secretary as to the matters that I’ve heard.”
Mrs Murgatroyd who shared an army home in Stanton St Quintin with her husband, but now lives in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, said: “I’m just taking each day as it comes.
“Andrew was amazing, the best anyone could imagine. He was there for me when my dad died. He would have gone out to Afghanistan this September gone and he was really looking forward to it.”
They had been together for four years and married for two, after meeting in Bradford, Yorkshire.
Mrs Murgatroyd’s first job on moving south was behind the bar that served the alcohol that proved to be fatal.
She said: “The way the army goes about drinking isn’t like the way you or I would. They’ve got to go out and get obliterated. I worked there two years and I’d never heard of this top shelf, I didn’t know what it was.”
North Wiltshire MP James Gray is calling for education on the dangers of drinking for all young people.
He said: “What a tragedy, he had his whole career ahead of him. The army is full of young men who are full of testosterone and they do drink, but I don’t really think it’s worse than any other young person. Britain’s binge culture is extraordinary among the younger generation; the way they say ‘let’s go out and be unconscious by six in the evening’.”
He said the bar should not be blamed. “If he didn’t get it there he could have got it somewhere else,” he said. “I think we need to educate all young people. Our schools and colleges have a responsibility to educate young people so they know the terrible consequences.”
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