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    Home »  News »  National News

    A fourth day of deliberations required in court martial of Calgary reservist

    Then Capt. Darryl Watts speaks during an interview with The Canadian Press in Calgary on Dec 8, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

    CALGARY - A fourth day of deliberations will be required to determine the fate of a Calgary reservist charged following a fatal training mishap in Afghanistan in 2010.

    Maj. Darryl Watts, 44, faces six charges, including manslaughter, in the death of Cpl. Josh Baker and injuries to four other soldiers on a firing range north of Kandahar city in February, 2010.

    Baker died when a Claymore anti-personnel mine, packed with 700 steel balls, peppered his platoon during a training exercise.

    The five-member military panel in the court martial spent Monday hunkered down in a conference room at the Mewata Armoury, a cordon of white tape providing a buffer and guaranteeing privacy.

    Deliberations began late Saturday but the panel of senior military members still had not come to a conclusion when it adjourned Monday afternoon.

    The Crown argues that Watts, who was the platoon commander, turned a blind eye to safety standards and abdicated his duty as a leader during the exercise.

    The defence counters that Watts had no training on the Claymore, so he handed over responsibility for safety to his second-in-command, who was an expert on the weapon.

    The platoon, which was stationed at Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar City, usually visited the Kan Kala firing range about once a month.

    On the day of the accident the range was divided into four training sections.

    The first two tests of the anti-personnel mine went off without a hitch. But when the second firing occurred, the ball bearings fired backwards, hitting Baker and four others.

    Videos of the accident show several soldiers, including Watts, standing around watching the tests. They were not inside armoured vehicles or standing behind them for cover, as set out in Canadian Forces safety guidelines.

    Watts's commanding officer, Maj. Christopher Lunney, pleaded guilty to negligent performance of duty in September and was demoted to captain and given a severe reprimand.

    Lunney's negligence was in failing to ensure that Watts was properly qualified, something the major said he had assumed because of Watts's rank at the time.

    Another court martial is pending against Warrant Officer Paul Ravensdale sometime in the new year.

    Ravensdale, who has since retired, is facing identical charges to Watts and will stand trial for manslaughter, unlawfully causing bodily harm, breach of duty and negligent performance of duty.


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