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Two soldiers who shot Manchester fusilier stay in army

Fusilier James Wilkinson died after he was accidentally shot whilst training. Credit: PA

Two servicemen convicted of negligence after a soldier from Greater Manchester was accidentally shot dead during a training exercise have been told they can remain in the Army.

Staff Sergeant Patrick Price and Corporal Colin Bell were jailed and dismissed from the armed forces by a military judge following the death of Fusilier James Wilkinson in 2011.

Three appeal judges ruled that both men could stay in the Army but must be reduced to the rank of private.

Appeal judges also cut the length of terms of military detention each should serve.

They handed down a ruling in London after an appeal hearing earlier this month.

Price, 43, had been given a 21-month term. Appeal judges reduced that to 15 months. Bell, 30, had been given a 14-month term. Appeal judges reduced that to 12 months.

Judges said Price was a safety supervisor on the exercise. He was found guilty of negligently performing his duty by failing to ensure the safe handling of a machine gun - after entering a not guilty plea.

Bell admitted negligently performing his duty while handling a machine gun, thereby causing the unintended discharge of a round which caused the death of Fusilier Wilkinson.

Judges said the accident happened in November 2011 on an exercise in Kenya when troops were preparing for deployment to Afghanistan.

They said Fusilier Wilkinson, 21, from Whitefield, had been married for five months.

One appeal judge, Lord Justice Pitchford, said:

"It seems to this court that the negligence of which these appellants were guilty was not the reckless performance of a routine duty but a failure to respond adequately to the unusual demands of a live firing exercise which generated its own peculiar stresses and pressures,"

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