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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
Brutal Army bullies 'ruined my life'
Soldier in training
Army desertions are at record levels
Bullying and brutal beating in the British Army has ruined a former soldier's life, the man has claimed.

Now 19, the Welsh former serviceman alleges colleagues systematically punched, kicked and headbutted him soon after his first posting in Germany three years earlier.

Craig - who is withholding his full identity - said he, too, has become violent and uncontrollable as a result, drinking heavily and taking drugs. It has made him unemployable.


I got thrown in bins, strangled by a drunk corporal when I was sleeping, punched, butted and had my kit stolen

Craig, 19, former British Army soldier alleging brutality
The Army, which does not comment on specific cases, said it does not tolerate bullying and takes the matter very seriously.

The soldier's revelation comes with the spotlight already shining intensely on the issue of military bullying.

Surrey Police detectives are currently investigating the deaths of four soldiers at Deepcut Barracks.

Their bodies were found with gunshot wounds. The Army claimed their deaths were suicides, but their families dispute that and allege bullying at the base has been covered up.

'Strangled in sleep'

Craig told BBC Radio Wales he believed he was bullied because he was singled out as officer material from day one.

"From the first night I got there, me and my best friend were made to put boxing gloves on to punch lumps out of each other.

"I got thrown in bins, strangled by a drunk corporal when I was sleeping at 0300, punched, butted, made to buy Christmas decorations with my own money, had my kit stolen.

British Army training exercise in Oman
Bullying in the Army is under the spotlight
"[I was] terrified, fearing for my life, fearing I wouldn't make it through to see another day."

He said he reported the bullying to a major - but the brutality became worse when the complaint was referred back to the offending corporal.

Craig said he has taken two ecstasy overdoses, smokes and drinks to excess and cannot communicate properly with friends.

His family said they no longer eat or sleep properly after seeing drastic in their son's behaviour - changes bullying helpline manager Tim Field said are characteristic of psychological injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

'Very concerned'

Brutality was one of the leading factors in a record number of Army desertions according to June 2000 statistics, which showed one in every 48 soldiers deserted or went absent without leave annually.

Replying to the latest case, the Army said: "The Army does not tolerate any form of bullying and it is a matter they take very seriously.

"The Army takes bullying extremely seriously and we would recommend that anyone who feels they have been bullied lets the relevant authority know as soon as possible so their case can be investigated in the proper manner.

"It is something the Army is very concerned about."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Craig, former soldier
"I was strangled in my sleep"
Tim Field
"Recruits are socially isolated from society"
BBC Wales' Rebecca John
"Within days of starting his first posting, his life became hell."

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