Army marksman Morgan Cook kept ammunition illegally

  • Published

An Army marksman's hopes of Olympic gold were dashed and his career left in ruins after he illegally kept ammunition, a court martial has heard.

Warrant Officer Morgan Cook, 40, had been tipped to lead Team GB to shooting glory at the London Games, the hearing at Colchester was told.

At an earlier hearing Cook, who was based in Bedfordshire, admitted illegal possession of thousands of rounds.

He was ordered to be reduced to the ranks and dismissed from the Army.

Cook was also given a nine-month prison sentence suspended for a year.

Judge Advocate Emma Peters told him: "You are, it is quite clear, an elite British Army marksman.

"That exalted position has been lost as a result of your actions and it is clear you will never compete again.

"Equally though, competing at that level ought to have imbued you with a healthy respect for ammunition and its safe-keeping.

"Your actions could have resulted in that ammunition falling into the wrong hands and fuelled the evil of gun crime."

Cook, who received glowing character references from his superiors, has already applied to leave the Army.

The hearing at Colchester Military Court Centre was told he stored the ammunition to help train himself and a team for the 2012 Olympics.

'Good medal bet'

Simon Reevell, mitigating, said success at the Games had seemed a realistic ambition.

"I can't say if he would have won but, at the time of the London Olympics, his personal best would in fact have been a gold medal score," he said.

"To go from being a good bet for a medal to being here with his career over is, on any view, a shame."

Lt Col Alastair Murray, prosecuting, said Cook had been arrested in November last year by military police after Jessica Robbins, a sports trainer, posted a video of a shooting exercise supervised by him on Facebook.

As a civilian, Ms Robbins did not have permission to take part in the exercise, which involved firing live rounds and automatic weapons.

Cook had to surrender his firearms licence, along with any weapons and ammunition.

He surrendered about 16,000 rounds but illegally kept about 30,000.

Handed himself in

Because he knew his service house at RAF Henlow, Bedfordshire, was to be searched he buried the ammunition on a nearby firing range alongside the Chicksands base.

The public had access to this area and a soldier on a training exercise stumbled across the cache in February while digging a sentry position.

Cook became aware of the find and handed himself in, Lt Col Murray said.

Cook, a warrant officer class two at the Headquarters Defence Intelligence and Security Centre in Chicksands, admitted four charges, including one of allowing a civilian to use a weapon on a firing range.

A married father-of-two, Cook has served in the Army for 24 years, completing tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Cook was left out of Team GB despite achieving qualifying scores.

British Shooting said his scores were ineligible because they had been achieved during practice and not in designated events.

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