November 13, 2012
Tribunal hears negligence killed soldier
By KEVIN MARTIN, QMI Agency
CALGARY - It was supposed to be a simple day on the firing range. But due to the negligence of a Canadian Forces reservist, it turned deadly tragic, a prosecutor told a Calgary court martial Tuesday.
Anthony Tamburro told a panel consisting of five senior military officer the criminal negligence of Maj. Darryl Watts, then a platoon captain stationed in Afghanistan, was to blame for the death of Cpl. Joshua Baker.
Baker was one of the soldiers under Watts' command on Feb. 12, 2009, when a training exercise went horribly wrong.
That day "was supposed to be just a simple day at the range," Tamburro said, in his opening address to the five-man panel. "It turned out not to be a simple day ... the day ended in tragedy."
Watts, 44, faces six charges in connection with Baker's death, the most serious being manslaughter.
The latter could result in Watts being stripped of his military rank and even imprisoned, should he be found guilty.
Tamburro said the soldiers were training with a live weapon designed to disperse metal balls, similar to Claymore mines used by the U.S. military.
But when the device was detonated, soldiers under Watts' command hadn't been instructed to take proper cover, the prosecutor said.
As a result, four were seriously wounded and "their comrade, Cpl. Joshua Baker, lay dead," Tamburro said.
He said it's not his intention during the scheduled five-week hearing to establish Watts intended any harm.
"The prosecution isn't alleging that Maj. Watts intended to wound anyone. He didn't," he said. "The prosecution isn't alleging that Maj. Watts intended to kill anyone."
Meanwhile, in evidence, Watts' then superior officer, Maj. Christopher Lunney, said he noticed nothing of concern in the moments leading up to the deadly blast.
Lunney, whose rank has been reduced to captain following his own guilty plea before a court martial, said Watts had not been previously trained on the deadly weapon, either in Canada, or Afghanistan.
But Lunney told defence lawyer Balfour Der he couldn't remember a specific conversation where Watts indicated he wasn't qualified to run a firing range with the device.
Outside court, Der said his client should not be blamed for a duty he wasn't even aware was his.
The trial resumes on Wednesday.
On Twitter: @SUNKevinMartin