MIL OSI – Source: Labour Party –
Headline: Military Court of Appeal quashes convictions
The court martial and conviction of an SAS soldier for stealing and unlawful possession of service property was a disastrous mistake by the Defence Force, says Labour’s Defence spokesperson, Phil Goff.
In a decision released today the soldier was acquitted on the four convictions by the Court Martial Appeal Court of New Zealand.
“The convictions ruined the military career of a good soldier who had served his country bravely,” says Phil Goff.
“It has also deprived the SAS of an experienced soldier who was widely praised by his officers and fellow SAS soldiers as being trustworthy and loyal.
“It’s a tragedy that his career was wrongly brought to an end in this way. Trooper ‘S’ had put himself in harm’s way and served his country with honour in Bosnia and three deployments in Afghanistan.
“Trooper ‘S’ spent $18,000 of his own money on buying his own equipment which he believed would make him a better soldier.
“At the end of his deployment he handed back equipment that he had purchased himself and sold nearly identical equipment that belonged to the Defence Force believing it was his own.
“The fundamental flaw in the Army’s case against him was that none of the items he was accused of stealing were found to be missing from the SAS stores. Given this, it is astonishing that he could have been convicted.
“The Defence Force will now have to do some fundamental soul-searching to determine why they got it wrong and learn the lessons from that.
“Everyone has been a loser in this. The SAS and the Army have lost a good and competent soldier who had his career ruined by charges and convictions which the Military Court of Appeal has now said cannot be sustained.
“Enormous credit must go to the soldier’s counsel, Melinda Mason, who did a superb job in ensuring that in the end justice prevailed,” Phil Goff said.