Soldier’s account of fatal march ‘completely different’

Image caption

Cpl Hoole joined the Army in April 2008

A soldier has been asked by a coroner why he gave a “completely different” account of a march in which a colleague fatally collapsed on a hot day.

Cpl Joshua Hoole, described as “fit, capable and determined” died within an hour of collapsing on a routine physical assessment in Brecon.

His death in July 2016 came three years after three reservists died during an SAS selection march there.

Birmingham’s senior coroner questioned differences in statements by a soldier.

L/Cpl James Burge had been withdrawn from the march before Cpl Hoole collapsed and had described how the officer running the march, Captain Colin Newfer, had told him he looked “dehydrated” and had “gone a funny colour”.

He then repeated that account in a later statement, in January 2019.

But in his most recent written account, which he voluntarily gave to the Royal Military Police on 20 February, he said he had been “mistaken” and that it was the march medic who had withdrawn him.

He added that his use of the words “dehydration” and “casualty” in his first accounts were also incorrect.

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Joshua Hoole served in Afghanistan

When asked about why he changed his version of events, L/Cpl Burge said: “I made a mistake.”

Senior Coroner Louise Hunt asked: “I don’t understand why when you’ve already done a statement to Royal Military Police in January – and don’t mention any of this – you then come to make a completely different statement on 20 February.

“You don’t think that’s a little odd?”

L/Cpl Burge, a veteran of Afghanistan, replied: “I thought I’d try and change my statement to where I believe it was correct.”

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Joshua Hoole was fit and a medical examination had not flagged any issues

The soldier, of 1 Rifles, was also asked by Ms Hunt which was “the right account”, and he replied: “Honestly, I don’t particularly know, Ma’am.”

The coroner said: “You don’t? But you accept something you write down closer to the event is more likely to be correct?”

“Yes,” he replied.

Earlier, Cpl Jonathan Mason told the inquest how he pulled out of the march after feeling “dizzy” and described coming across two other soldiers who collapsed before Cpl Hoole, that day.

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