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Tuesday, 19 March, 2002, 07:02 GMT
Inquiry call over marine's shooting
Alan Richards at son Wayne's grave
Alan Richards is demanding justice over his son's death
A leading barrister is calling for an inquiry into the shooting of a trainee Marine commando from south Wales on a training exercise in Devon.

Anthony Scrivener QC, who is a former chairman of the Bar Council, said the Army's own accident investigation team report revealed a catalogue of errors that amount to "gross negligence".

Wayne Richards
Wayne Richards was just 17

Wayne Richards from Cwmavon, near Port Talbot, was 17 when he was killed in March 2000 following a mix up between blank and live ammunition during a night-time training exercise.

He was fifth training death in four years at the Commando Training Centre at Lympstone, east Devon.

An inquest into the teenager's death, held in June last year, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Two years later his father Alan said is still fighting for justice in his efforts to find out exactly what happened to his son.

His battle began when the Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution against two members of the training team.

Wayne's father Alan Richards
Alan Richards: Exercise was a 'shambles'

"That particular training team was a shambles from start to finish. Safety was non-existent. It has been a catalogue of errors which caused my son to be killed," he said following the inquest.

"It should never have happened."

BBC Wales's current affairs programme Week In Week Out to be broadcast on Tuesday, reveals breaches in procedures in the use of live and blank ammunition that led to Wayne Richard's death and a similar shooting of another soldier on the Brecon Beacons.

Twenty-two-year-old Grenadier Guardsman Richard King from Kent died after he was shot with a live round during an exercise at the Sennybridge army ranges in February 1998.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute anyone over the death following an investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police.

Anthony Scrivenor QC:
Anthony Scrivenor QC: Inquiry

Later an inquest failed to establish why army procedures had failed and the Health and Safety Executive demanded improvements.

His family have now launched a civil action against the Ministry of Defence in an attempt to find out the truth about Mr King's death and to raise the profile of such accidents.

"We thought with the publicity that came with it, that it would prevent another family, or another soldier having to go through this, but it hasn't," said his sister Liz Bull.

Last month another soldier received a gunshot wound and was seriously injured during an infantry training exercise at Sennybridge.

"I mean there's Mr Richards and his son Wayne and four years almost to the day that my brother was killed at Sennybridge another soldier has been injured," Ms Bull added.

Nobody has ever been court-martialled for Mr King's death and the only recommendations made by the Army after his death were changes in a pamphlet dealing with the use of live and blank ammunition.

But two years after Richard King's death, Wayne Richards was fatally injured, again after a mix-up with live and blank ammunition.

Richard King
Richard King: Died on exercise

His family are still waiting for the results of the MoD's board of inquiry and are still seeking justice for the death.

Both families are calling for the military to control the use of live ammunition more closely so that accidents like this cannot be repeated, and for those responsible to be tried in a civilian rather than a military court.

Alan Richards said: "I will go to any length it needs, any length at all and I'll just take it to the next stage all the time, and I'm not giving in."

Week In Week Out is broadcast on BBC Wales at 2235 BST on Tuesday

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BBC Wales's Louise Elliott
"They were meant to be blank rounds, but Wayne Richards was shot with live ammunition"

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