ALBERTA

Maj. Darryl Watts, Calgary Reservist In Fatal Afghanistan Accident, Will Not Get New Trial

02/06/2015 12:08 EST | Updated 04/08/2015 05:59 EDT
CP
CALGARY - A military reservist who won an appeal of his conviction in a deadly Afghanistan training accident will not face a new trial.

But Maj. Darryl Watts says the death of Cpl. Josh Baker and the injuries to four other soldiers still haunt him.

"I don't know if you feel vindicated. I still lost a soldier that day, one of the soldiers of my platoon," Watts said Friday upon hearing the news from The Canadian Press.

"You feel somewhat responsible, morally responsible, for being their leader during that time, even though it was out of my hands," he said.

"I don't think you feel vindicated, given the death and the injuries to the other soldiers that were there."

Last September, the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada entered a finding of not guilty on a conviction against the Calgary reservist for negligent performance of duty.

It also ordered a new trial on a conviction of unlawfully causing bodily harm and a second count of negligent performance of duty.

Canadian Forces spokeswoman Capt. Amber Bineau said the Director of Military Prosecutions reviewed the Appeal Court's decision and decided not to proceed with a second trial.

"It seems that the case has now concluded."

Watts said he still loves being in the military, but his career has stalled.

Baker was killed, and four others were seriously injured, when a C-19 Claymore anti-personnel mine loaded with 700 steel balls misfired and peppered his platoon on a practice range.

The first two tests had gone off without a hitch that day. But during the next one, the ball bearings fired backward, hitting Baker and the others.

"It's been a very unfortunate incident right from that day in February five years ago now that the accident happened," Watts said. "But when you're in the centre of one of these things it affects you in a bunch of ways.

"We'll definitely move on, but even though they've decided not to pursue charges, it's been a long go for the last several years."

Watts, who held the rank of captain at the time and was later promoted to major, was placed in charge of the training range in February 2010. He was demoted two ranks to lieutenant and given a severe reprimand after his conviction in December 2012.

He has since had his rank of major restored.

Two other soldiers were also convicted for their roles in the accident.

Watts's commanding officer, Maj. Christopher Lunney, pleaded guilty to negligent performance of duty for failing to ensure Watts was properly qualified on the C-19. Lunney was demoted one rank to captain from major and received a severe reprimand.

Warrant Officer Paul Ravensdale, who was running the exercise that day, was found guilty of breach of duty causing death, breach of duty causing bodily harm, unlawfully causing bodily harm and negligent performance of military duty.

He was acquitted of manslaughter, but the now-retired soldier was given a six-month suspended sentence. He also received a fine and was demoted one rank to sergeant.

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