Marine shooting: Fight for prosecution

The father of a Royal Marine recruit shot dead during a mock attack by training instructors, has vowed to continue his fight for justice.

Alan Richards spoke out after an inquest into the death of his 17-year-old son Wayne recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The teenager from Cwmavon, near Port Talbot, south Wales, was shot following a mix up between blank and live ammunition. during a training exercise in Devon in March last year.

Despite the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service has decided there was insufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution against two members of the training team, Mr Richards still insists action should be taken.

Speaking after the verdict, he said: “I’m really happy the truth has come out. Now the truth is out I think itshould be referred back to the CPS…”

“It is not going to end here. I cannot understand the CPS not taking it up inthe beginning.

“That particular training team was a shambles from start to finish. Safetywas non-existent. It has been a catalogue of errors which caused my son to be killed. Itshould never have happened.”

The nine-strong jury in Exeter returned their verdict on Thursday, after hearing that Mr Richards, 17, was the fifth training death in four years at the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, east Devon.

The inquest – which began more than a week ago – had also been told that the Ministry of Defence had agreed to spend £6.5m making future training exercises safer.

Mr Richards – who had dreamed of becoming a Marine since he was a child – was hit by live ammunition in a mock attack when only blank rounds should have been fired.

Shot in the head and shoulder, he died at the scene of the exercise at Hunters Moon on Woodbury Common, a few milesfrom the Royal Marine camp.

He was nine weeks into an intensely demanding seven month training course.

The hearing was told that a series of clear orders were infringed during the exercise which had led to the mix up of live and blank ammunition.

A statement from training accidentinvestigator Lieutenant Colonel John Adams insisted that that steps had now been taken “to ensure training with blanks will be as safe as possible”.

It was explained to the court that a new gun magazine of a different colour had now been developed which would onlyaccept blank ammunition, the inquest heard.

Six hundreds thousand of those magazines are now being purchased for training exercises.

They have been devised with a special protrusion so that blank magazines can be distinguished by touch from live ones in the dark.

The inquest jury was told by a member of the training accidentinvestigation team, Captain John Whitchurch, that the shooting of Mr Richards shouldnever have happened.

He said there was a safe system in place to prevent such an event.

Since the shooting there had been nine recommendation for changes inprocedures, all but one of which had been implemented.

Earlier in proceedings, the court was told that the officer in charge had been inexperienced and lacked essential safety knowledge.

Captain Gareth Pearson, 25, had only been in his job for two months and the accident happened on only the second training mission he commanded.