A British Army instructor who told junior recruits “You are mine now, b ***** s” was demoted after being convicted of beating teenage soldiers.
Following a court martial, it was discovered that Corporal Kimberley Hey had punched a 16-year-old in the stomach on his first day of training and dealt a similar blow to another recruit because he had “smiled”.
Reducing the 34-year-old’s rank to the rank of Lance Corporal, Judge Advocate Alistair McGrigor told her that although the punches were at a “low level,” she had “abused” her relationship with the rookies and that his actions had the potential to “erode public confidence” in the training of the armed forces.
“You were a very experienced instructor in charge of young soldiers,” he said. “You had the best interests of the young soldiers at heart, but it was an abuse of your relationship.
“That’s a terrible example to set for impressionable young soldiers at the start of their military careers. Such behavior had the potential to erode public confidence in the training of young soldiers.
“You have lost your rank by such behavior.”
Cpl Hey, who served in the armed forces for 18 years, denied the charges, insisting that his actions were nothing more than “mutual flashing” which was part of the “bond” with the soldiers.
But she was convicted in a three-day trial at Bulford Military Court, Wilts, of two battery counts involving junior Craftsman recruits Joseph Wiggin and Craftsman Jonathan Bryan.
She was acquitted of six other counts of assault and battery involving three other soldiers, including allegations that she beat recruits for failing tests.
The court heard that Cpl Hey, 3rd Regiment Royal Logistics Corps, worked as a member of the executive staff at Army Foundation College Harrogate, North Yorks.
Junior Soldiers undergo training at AFC Harrogate for approximately six months, divided into three terms of approximately six weeks.
A trainee told the court martial that Cpl Hey told new hires, “You’re mine now, bitches” soon after they arrived.
Signalman Hannah Harwood, who testified by video link from the Falkland Islands, spoke of several incidents on the “company line” – a line running down a corridor at the base along which recruits would line up.
She said, “Cpl Hey addressed the platoon early in the first quarter when we first arrived.
“She said something like ‘You’re mine now, bitch.’
“At the start of the second term, Cpl Hey addressed the platoon again. She asked us: ‘Who thinks they are the toughest?’
“Three people put their hands up and Cpl Hey hit them all in the stomach. “
Craftsman Wiggin told the court that Cpl Hey hit “everyone in the peloton” on their first day of training when he was just 16 years old.
Cfn Wiggin said: “The peloton was called to the line on the first day of training.
“Our section was on the line and we were all hit. There was no meanness behind it – it was more of a kind of connection.
“My arms were behind my back because we were all comfortable. She didn’t say anything or give a reason, and I didn’t know she was going to hit me.
“I would have been 16 at the time.”
Craftsman Bryan told the court, “Cpl Hey hit me in the stomach on one occasion.
“The whole peloton was in line. I smirked at the time and she stung my stomach.
“I had anticipated her a little bit because she would be doing it as a joke with a few of her section.
“Cpl Hey was a good DS; she was strict but fair. She treated us more like friends and joked around with us.
Sentencing, Judge Advocate McGrigor said: “You hit the soldier [Joseph] Wiggin on his first day as he stood in line with his entire peloton.
“Later you hit Private [Jonathan] Bryan because he smiled at you. The court ruled that it was “mutual flicking” as you said.
“We accept, however, that those punches were at a very low level.”