Soldier put in detention for drunken base prank
A DECORATED soldier was yesterday given seven days' military detention following a drunken prank when he ordered recruits from their beds to assemble outside in the middle of the night.
Pte Anthony Walsh (25), of the 12th Infantry Battalion in Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick, appeared before a court martial yesterday.
Before Military Judge Col Tony McCourt, Pte Walsh pleaded guilty to three offences which occurred at the Limerick barracks on September 26, 2008.
The offences included entering recruit accommodation without authority; creating a disturbance by waking private soldiers; and ordering them without authority to get dressed in PT (physical training) gear and assemble outside.
He also pleaded guilty to assaulting Pte Patrick O'Kelly by rolling on top of him while he was sitting on a bed and preventing him from getting up.
The court martial heard that he had no previous convictions, civil or military.
Pte Walsh -- who was educated by the Christian Brothers in Cork -- joined the Defence Forces in December 2004. He is single with no children and served overseas in Lebanon.
He also played rugby with Cork Constitution as well as a Defence Forces team, had an interest in weapons, and told the court he hoped to get into the Ordnance Corps where his father had served for 25 years.
Capt John O'Sullivan told the court that Pte Walsh had been awarded a UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) medal and the UN peacekeeping medal in March 2007.
On the night he committed the offences, Pte Walsh said he was drinking with colleagues in the privates' mess before they went to Kilmurry Lodge Hotel and returned to Sarsfield Barracks. He said he was "fairly intoxicated" when he returned and decided to play a prank.
"I realise I was ridiculously stupid. I feel very sorry and ashamed at my actions. I am genuinely sorry," Pte Walsh said.
He said he now only drinks on special occasions and said he hoped to get back to soldiering and wanted to become an NCO.
Following the incident, Pte Walsh, who said he had wanted to join the Army since he was small, was taken off armed duties and sent to Clonmel where he worked in the kitchen washing pots for six months. Following that, he returned to Limerick and was put on cleaning duty.
Sgt Major Patrick Hogan said that he knew Pte Walsh since he joined the force in 2004 and described him as "a very good soldier" who does his tasks very well.
Passing sentence, Col McCourt said that "as a soldier you must give a good example to recruits at all times". However, he said Pte Walsh did not do so on the night in question.
"You let the side down on this occasion. Your conduct was without doubt unacceptable behaviour," he added.
He fined Pte Walsh a total of €1,000 and ordered that he serve seven days' detention without pay for the assault offence.