Two soldiers from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment have been accused of waging a “persistent” campaign of intimidation against a Northern Irish colleague, including cursing at him about the IRA and the car bombings.
Soldiers Maxwell Nicholls and Declan Coutts also allegedly put Private Scott Alexander in strangles and headaches, repeatedly soaked his bed with water and stole his ironing board and boots, a court martial said .
The three were roommates at a barracks in Windsor where they trained for the historic regiment, which is usually tasked with guarding the Queen.
Mr Nicholls, who is English, and Mr Coutts, who is Scottish, are also accused of racially abusing a Muslim colleague, Azaan Aziz-Sheikh, with the former accused of calling him a ‘p ** * black-faced “and the two allegedly assaulted him.
Asked about the extent of the abuse by the panel, Mr Alexander, who speaks with a strong North Irish accent, said he felt ‘demoralized’ and begged Mr Coutts and Mr Nicholls to stop, but added “it didn’t make a difference, they thought it was funny”.
In total, Mr Nicholls and Mr Coutts are charged with a series of nine counts relating to alleged incidents that took place between July and November 2020.
Lt. Matthew Poulsom, in charge of prosecutions, told Bulford Military Court: “Nicholls and Coutts have launched a persistent campaign of intimidation against [Mr Alexander]. Repeatedly, they pinned him to the ground, sat on his chest, strangled and strangled him, and made racist comments. They often made racist slurs against him as a Northern Irishman, referring to the IRA in derogatory terms. “
Speaking about a specific alleged incident, which he said occurred on October 30, 2020, Lt. Poulsom claimed that while in a Windsor pub, Mr Nicholls shouted racist comments at Mr. Aziz-Sheikh. Mr. Nicholls and Mr. Coutts allegedly assaulted him when they all returned to Combermere Barracks in Windsor.
Nicholls assaulted him by pushing him in the head and immediately after Nicholls sat down and made abusive comments about [Tpr Aziz-Sheikh’s] Muslim faith, ”he said.
Testifying, Mr. Alexander said his relationship with his roommates had become “unpleasant” within a week. He said: “I had insults against me after they took over my accent. Lots of derogatory terms have been used. In terms of car bombs, my name was Gerry Adams, and they were saying I was in the IRA. I think it was said in a pretty focused way, not in a pleasant way. “
Eleanor Lucas, a lawyer representing Mr Nicholls, said the behavior was “harmless heckling between friends.” It also showed court videos of Mr. Alexander taking part in group pranks and photos of him allegedly wearing a t-shirt with the nickname “terrorist”.
Cathryn Sutcliffe, on behalf of Mr Coutts, accused Mr Alexander of “making it up as you go.”
Mr Alexander went on to explain how at first he “grabbed him by the chin” but struggled to cope. He said, “I kept saying, ‘Leave it out’ or telling them to grow up. It has become more physical. There were headbands, chokes, they would sit on my chest and pin me to the ground. I would be lying on my bed and they would come and jump on me.
Jamie Bartlett, another trainee soldier who drank in a Wetherspoons pub with the soldiers on the night of October 30, claimed to have heard Mr. Nicholls call Mr. Aziz-Sheikh a “fucking little brown man”.
Both Mr. Nicholls and Mr. Coutts face a race aggravated battery charge against Mr. Alexander as well as another battery charge. The couple also face a conduct charge related to allegations of racial abuse against Mr. Alexander.
Mr Nicholls is charged with two counts of religious assault aggravated by beatings and two other counts of assault and battery, all related to alleged attacks against Mr. Aziz-Sheikh. Mr. Coutts is charged with Mr. Aziz-Sheikh’s battery. They deny all charges.
The trial continues.
Additional reporting by Solent News