International Security

‘Reckless’ soldier who caused £35,000 worth of damage while racing his friend is spared prison

Jun 26, 2024 IDOPRESS
Lance Corporal Jack Whitt ploughed his car into a shower unit at Tidworth Camp while racing in heavy rain

L/Cpl Whitt and L/Cpl Rough,both 25,crashed their cars after speeding around their base last January

Credit: Andrew Croft/Solent News & Photo Agency

A British Army soldier destroyed a £35,000 shower block when he ploughed into it in his car following a race around the military base with a colleague,a court martial heard.

Lance Corporal Jack Whitt and Lance Corporal Kieran Rough both crashed their cars in heavy rain,ran away and then lied to police when questioned.

L/Cpl Rough swerved into a concrete barrier in his black BMW and L/Cpl Whitt,who was just behind him in his white Mercedes,ploughed into the shower unit at Tidworth Camp,Wilts.

The soldiers,both 25 and from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers,then repeatedly lied to police while giving statements and interviews,insisting they were not driving.

Now,they have been given 10-week prison sentences suspended for 12 months at Bulford Military Court,Wilts.

The Army had to replace the shower block at Tidworth following the “very silly” incident on January 14 last year,costing more than £35,000.

Lieutenant Colonel Lindsey Jones,prosecuting,told the court that after returning from a night out in nearby Amesbury around midnight,the Lance Corporals “got in their respective cars and drove around camp”.

“It was dark and they were driving at speed,” Lt Col Jones said.

She said L/Cpl Rough “misjudged” a bend in the road and had to brake suddenly,causing him to swerve off and collide with a concrete kerb at 12.45am.

L/Cpl Whitt,who was behind his colleague,then ploughed straight into the portable shower block and sent it flying 15 metres.

The pair have been given 10-week prison sentences suspended for 12 months at Bulford Military Court,Wilts

Credit: Andrew Croft/Solent News & Photo Agency

Lt Col Jones said the pair “fled the scene” but an SOS device in one of the cars alerted police that there had been a crash and Wiltshire Police officers rushed to the site.

Around 1.30am,L/Cpl Rough and L/Cpl Whitt returned to the scene – but lied to officers.

L/Cpl Rough told them “he was not driving” and that the car had been “taken from camp without his consent”.

They were eventually caught after DNA evidence was found on their airbags.

Lt Col Jones said: “The driving was too fast for the road and prevailing conditions. It was dark and raining heavily and L/Cpl Rough did not know the layout.

“The court may consider that was a reckless contravention.

“Driving without due care and attention not only puts the driver at risk,but other drivers and pedestrians at risk.

“They had several opportunities to report this accident but they decided not to.

“Honesty is such an essential and integral component of the chain of command.”

The soldiers,part of 6 Armoured Close Support Battalion,admitted breaching a standing order by driving without due care and attention,failure to report the accident,and conduct prejudicial to good order in relation to lying to police.

Alex Rynn,solicitor for L/Cpl Rough,said they were “quite frankly,very silly actions”.

Mr Rynn said: “Perhaps L/Cpl Rough said it best himself,he said ‘this was the stupidest thing in the world’. He is very sorry.”

Laura Deuxberry,solicitor for LC/pl Whitt,said: “Clearly this was an act one might expect from a teenager. It’s clear that time in the Army might have matured him,and it has,but a split second decision led to what we’re dealing with today.”

Assistant Judge Advocate General John Atwill said the soldiers narrowly escaped prison.

Judge Atwill said: “We express no view as to why you were [driving]; you said you were showing each other around. It was a bad day at the races,whatever.

“The crashes that you had – had the cars not saved you – could have killed you. Driving badly is no good. Leaving the scene is no good. Lying to the police is really no good. It’s an offence for which civilians can expect to go to prison.”

Judge Atwill said it was a “chain of events that got out of hand” and that the pair were loyal to each other rather than doing the right thing and reporting it.

“You wasted police time and it reflected very badly on you as soldiers and as non-commissioned officers.”