Soldier who died in Brecon Beacons suffered organ failure, inquest hears

Corporal James Dunsby was one of three who died during or after SAS selection exercise in 30C heat

An army reservist who collapsed and died after an SAS selection exercise suffered multiple organ failure, a coroner has been told.

Corporal James Dunsby, 31, was one of three soldiers who died during or after the arduous test in 30C heat on the Brecon Beacons in south Wales.

At the opening of his inquest in Aberdare, the Powys coroner Louise Hunt was told that Dunsby died in hospital in Birmingham more than two weeks after collapsing.

Detective Sergeant Carole Williams, of Dyfed Powys police, said a postmortem had been carried out and a preliminary result had revealed that he suffered “multiple organ failure”. Further investigations have been ordered by a Home Office pathologist.

The cause of the deaths of the other two soldiers, Edward Maher, also 31, and Lance Corporal Craig Roberts, 24, remains “unascertained” and more tests are being carried out.

Hunt told the court that a full inquest would look at whether article 2 of the Human Rights Act – the right to life – had been contravened and whether there had been any “failings” by those in charge of the soldiers.

She said: “It is important that the full circumstances are addressed so the family can fully understand what happened to their loved ones.” No members of Dunsby’s family were present.

Williams told the court she was running the police incident room investigating the men’s deaths. The police are working with the Heath and Safety Executive to establish if any criminal offences have been committed.

She told how the police were alerted by the ambulance service that one man had died during a selection process at 5.15pm on 13 July. The ambulance service said there were four other casualties. Previously it had been believed that six men in all had collapsed.

Williams said Roberts was certified dead at 5.10pm and Maher at 8pm that day. Dunsby died on 30 July at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham.

She said the police investigation included interviewing witnesses and members of mountain rescue teams and looking at documents connected with the exercise.

For the first time since the tragedy it was confirmed officially that the incident took place on Pen y Fan, notorious as the location for the so-called “fan dance” where soldiers hoping to join the special forces march over the mountain carrying a heavy pack and a rifle, then do the route in reverse in a set time.

In a statement released through the Ministry of Defence last week, Dunsby’s family said he loved the army and believed “passionately” in his work as a protector of Queen and country.

The statement read: “James had the most infectious enthusiasm for life. He was the most loving and dependable husband, not to mention the most handsome of men who could not be more cherished. James was and will remain a dearly loved son, brother and husband.

“He had the uniquely wonderful ability to endear, enchant and captivate all who he met with his naughty sense …read more  

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