Soldier is fined 10 days’ pay for going missing for 509 days

An Army private who went missing for a total of 509 days was fined 10 days’ pay and given a severe reprimand but was found not guilty of desertion.

The case was one of just six courts-martial that went to hearing last year, with other cases including charges of military personnel being under the influence of intoxicants, ill-discipline and assault.

Those who came before courts-martial last year range from private to sergeant in terms of rank, and includes the case of a lieutenant who faced a total of 12 charges, including that he went absent without leave on four separate occasions, totalling 274 days.

The summary courts-martial ultimately dismissed charges relating to alleged absence without leave for 231 of those days but he was found guilty of being AWOL for one 43-day period, for which he was fined €1,500 and given a severe reprimand.

A nolle prosequi was entered on three other charges against the lieutenant, including two offences in relation to documents contrary to a section of the 1954 Defence Act.

He was found guilty of five other charges against him, all relating to committing conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline, resulting in additional fines and compensation totalling €7,600, reprimands, a pay cut and demotion of rank for a year.

A sergeant was found guilty of offences in relation to documents contrary to section 167(a) of the 1954 Defence Act, which involves knowingly or negligently making or signing a document, required for official purposes, that is false. He was fined three days’ pay and reprimanded, while nolle prosequi were entered on two other similar charges.

Another Sergeant was fined €450 and given a severe reprimand after being found guilty behaving in a subordinate manner towards a superior officer, and was also reprimanded and fined another €180 for behaving in a disorderly manner due to his being under the influence of an intoxicant.

Conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline resulted in a corporal being fined €300 and being severely reprimanded, while nolle prosequi were entered regarding four other charges, including one of ill-treatment of subordinates.

Another corporal was fined seven days’ pay and given a severe reprimand after being found guilty of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline. Nolle prosequi were entered regarding four other charges.

All summary courts-martial were heard at the Military Justice Centre at McKee Barracks in Dublin, including the first case to be heard last year, that of the Private found not guilty of desertion but guilty of going AWOL for a total of 509 days.

He was fined 10 days’ pay and given a severe reprimand.

Just two appeals were heard last year against previous summary courts-martial rulings.

An acting flight sergeant won an appeal and had both the original determination and the punishment quashed regarding the initial finding of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline.

A private lost an appeal over an initial finding that he had gone AWOl for 17 days, resulting in the loss of 17 days’ pay.

No limited or general courts-martial were held last year. Unless otherwise ordered by the military judge, all courts-martial are open to the general public.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

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