Drill instructor fined for bullying recruits

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A ROYAL Marine drill instructor who bullied new recruits and hit one in the groin with a pace stick has avoided jail.

Corporal Peter Clark pleaded guilty to three offences of ill-treating subordinates at a Portsmouth Naval Base court martial centre and has been fined £1,750.

He was also given a severe reprimand.

The 39-year-old admitted grabbing Marine Recruit (MR) Matthew Scott round the throat, hitting MR Joshua Croxford in the groin with a pace stick, and hitting MR Adam Lushman in the face with a pair of combat boots.

A pace stick is a long stick carried by a drill instructor as a symbol of authority and it is used to set a marching pace.

The offences took place last year at the Commando Training Centre in Devon. A panel of three senior officers determined the sentence handed to Clark, a married man whose wife recently gave birth to his sixth child.

Sentencing him, Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett said: ‘Young commandos and marines have to be trained to a very high standard and the training has to be tough.

‘However there is no place for physical and mental abuse that has the potential to harm the morale of recruits. The actions you took crossed the line.’

Judge Blackett said Clark was junior in rank and better supervision would have prevented his actions. He added that although serious, his behaviour was not severe enough to warrant a custodial sentence or a demotion in rank.

He told Clark: ‘It is clear what you did was of genuine over-zealousness and you had the interest of the corps at heart.’

Lieutenant Colonel Nigel Heppenstall, prosecuting, said Clark’s bullying had no place in the modern marines.

Stephen Smyth, defending, said Clark had been over-zealous in his efforts to install discipline in a failing troop and to assert his authority.