18 Aug 2015

Soldiers 'stupid beyond belief' - judge

6:20 pm on 18 August 2015

Three soldiers have been sentenced to detention at Burnham Military Camp for covering up how live ammunition exploded during a training exercise.

The unnamed soldier, Private Paul Dobson, and Private Donald Thomson

The unnamed soldier, Private Paul Dobson, and Private Donald Thomson Photo: FFX pool

Privates Paul Dobson, Donald Thomson and a third soldier were taking part in a battle exercise at Tekapo when Private Dobson handed a Thunderflash to Private Thomson along with a knife and asked him to separate the two components of the smoke grenade and Thunderflash.

Private Thomson thought the device had gone off so he began cutting it in half and then tried lighting it with a cigarette lighter. The contents ignited and burnt his hand and face and he required hospital treatment.

The three soldiers made a number of different statements about what happened over the next few days.

He asked Private Paul Dobson and another soldier, who has name suppression, to lie for him because he was already facing other disciplinary action.

All three men pleaded guilty to making false statements at a Court Martial today.

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The soldiers were taking part in an exercise near Tekapo - similar to this 2013 operation - when the incident occurred. Photo: NZDF

Judge Peter Hall called Private Thomson stupid beyond belief and told him he was wrong to ask the others to lie to protect him.

He was sentenced to 31 days' detention at the Service Correctional Establishment.

The other two soldiers were each sentenced to 10 days' detention.