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Fusilier James Wilkinson death: Servicemen can stay in Army

Two servicemen convicted of negligence after a soldier was accidentally shot dead on exercise have been told they can remain in the Army.

Staff Sgt Patrick Price and Cpl Colin Bell were dismissed from the armed forces and jailed after the death of Fusilier James Wilkinson in 2011.

The 21-year-old, from Bury, Greater Manchester, was killed by machine gun fire while on exercise in Kenya.

Appeal judges in London cut the length of jail terms the two should serve.

They ruled that the men may stay in the Army but will both be reduced to the rank of Private.

Machine gun exercise

Price, 43, has had his 21-month term reduced to 15 months. Bell, 30, who was given a 14-month term, has seen his sentence reduced to 12 months.

Judges said Price, a safety supervisor on the exercise, was found guilty of negligently performing his duty by failing to ensure the safe handling of a machine gun.

Bell admitted negligently performing his duty while handling a machine gun, thereby causing the unintended discharge of a round which killed Fusilier Wilkinson.

Lord Justice Pitchford said: "The consequence of their negligence was the tragic death of a fellow soldier and... these men will not forget their responsibility for it.

"The nature of the service offence committed was not, in our judgment, itself so serious that dismissal should inevitably follow.

"We conclude that the requirements of service life would have been sufficiently met by a reduction to the ranks of both men."

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