Dorset

Capt Rupert Nurich guilty of Bovington army base flare fire

fire at Bovington Image copyright Fill Your Bootz
Image caption The fire on the top floor of a seven-storey building took two hours to extinguish

An army officer has been found guilty of negligently damaging service property after firing a flare at a social event, which set fire to a military barracks.

The blaze at Allenby Barracks in Bovington, Dorset, in July 2016 caused £400,000 of damage.

A court martial heard Capt Rupert Nurich of the Royals Scots Dragoon Guards was taking part in "improvised gladitorial-style combat".

He was given a severe reprimand.

Ten fire appliances were called to deal with the blaze, which took two hours to extinguish.

Image copyright Forces TV
Image caption The fire followed a dinner to mark the end of training

The flare was fired as guests gathered around a swimming pool and one shot through an upper window of the seven-storey residential building, setting fire to a room and corridor.

A court martial at Bulford Barricks heard Nurich was experienced in handling pyrotechnics and weapons.

The prosecution argued that because he had drunk two glasses of Pimms and six glasses of wine he should not have fired the flare and was negligent because he was close to buildings.

The officer's barrister, Robert Morris, said what happened was a "freak accident" and the flare had probably veered off course due to a manufacturing fault.

"It was fired in the way you are meant to - away from people and buildings," he said.

The court said it was concerned that "high jinks" involving senior officers had set the tone for the evening.

Nurich was also ordered to pay £10,000 to a civilian steward who lost all her personal possessions in the fire and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and mild depression as a result.

On the instructions of the Deputy Judge Advocate, Nurich had earlier been found not guilty of arson.

Another Royal Scots Dragoon Guards officer, Lieutenant Tim Carpenter, was found not guilty of arson and not guilty of negligently damaging service property.

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