SAS officers let off over Aussie soldier’s death
THE shattered widow of an Aussie soldier who served beside Prince Harry in Afghanistan and then died during a gruelling British SAS selection exercise has blasted defence chiefs as her husband's two commanding officers were acquitted of negligence.
Bryher Dunsby's partner Corporal James Dunsby, 31, who was raised in Hobart, died in July 2013 after a 26km hike in full kit over a Welsh mountain range on what would prove to be the hottest day of the year.
Two other reservists, Lance Corporal Edward Maher, 31, and Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, 24, also died of heat exhaustion during the training exercise.
"This is beyond unacceptable, and shows blatant ignorance to a vital need, where apparently three deaths are not enough to incite change," Ms Dunsby said.
"This court martial has revealed the shocking reality that there is still no official guidance for those conducting endurance training marches in the British Army on heat illness, even five years on."
Corporal Dunsby's two commanding officers were dramatically acquitted following a week-long court martial at Britain's Bulford Military Court.
The officers, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been accused of making "basic" errors in the organisation and risk assessment of the march, part of the SAS selection process.
But Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett ruled they had no case to answer because the Ministry of Defence had failed to give them proper training in dealing with heat illness.
Corporal Dunsby's father David said army chiefs should be on trial for the deaths.
"I'd like to see others in the dock. Those men at the top in the dock," he said.
"They're just sitting behind their little mahogany desks now in London hoping it's all going to go away. I guess after this, it probably will all go away."
Lawyer Clare Stevens, who represented Corporal Dunsby's father, said: "The failings were significant and went right to the top - the two put on trial are scapegoats for those at the top.
"(The Ministry of Defence) is immune from prosecution under health and safety legislation, so it received a Crown censure - just a recording to confirm had they not been exempt from prosecution, they would have been prosecuted."