Calgary reservist linked to soldier's death won't be jailed
Maj. Darryl Watts gets reduction in rank to lieutenant, severe reprimand
A Calgary reservist has been sentenced to a reduction in rank and a severe reprimand for his role in a soldier's death during a live-fire training exercise in Afghanistan.
Maj. Darryl Watts was found guilty last year of unlawfully causing bodily harm and negligent performance of duty.
His rank was reduced to lieutenant as part of his sentence today at the Calgary court martial.
Watts, who is a full-time firefighter in Calgary, was the platoon commander when an explosive device killed 24-year-old Cpl. Josh Baker at a training range just north of Kandahar city in February 2010.
Four other soldiers were also wounded when Claymore explosives (C19s) packed with 700 steel balls hit a Canadian Forces platoon.
The prosecution was seeking a jail term of 18 months and dismissal from the forces, or demotion of two ranks.
Defence lawyer Balfour Der said the sentence could have been worse.
"From what we were working with, it's not a bad sentence. It's a heck of a lot better than this man going to jail or this man being kicked out of the army," Der said Wednesday after the sentencing.
However, Der said it's highly probable that he will file an appeal of both the guilty verdicts and the sentence.
Watts has promising career, says judge
The sentencing judge — a senior ranking military officer — cited Watts's promising career with the military and now with the Calgary Fire Department as reasons for not sending him to jail.
"He can continue to be a highly effective officer," said Cmdr. Peter Lamont.
Lamont called Watts's demotion rehabilitative, saying where rank can be lost it can also be regained.
The Calgary Fire Department released a statement saying Watts is a well-respected employee with an exemplary record.
"As a result, he will be allowed to continue to serve as a firefighter," the department said.
Watts stood at attention during sentencing and had no visible reaction.
Maj. Dylan Kerr, who prosecuted the case, said it's not up to him to decide if his side will appeal the sentence. He said cases such as this one, where someone is not directly responsible, are more complicated.
Kerr had argued that Watts, who was the platoon commander, didn't enforce safety standards and abdicated his duty as leader when he handed over responsibility for safety on the training range to Warrant Officer Paul Ravensdale.
Watts's commanding officer, Maj. Christopher Lunney, pleaded guilty in September to negligent performance of duty and was demoted to captain and given a severe reprimand.
Ravensdale, who has since retired, was convicted last week of unlawfully causing bodily harm, two counts of breach of duty and one count of negligent performance of military duty. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for next month.
With files from The Canadian Press