Corporal's rifle attacks on soldiers

By Jarrod Booker

A New Zealand Army corporal has admitted striking two privates with a Steyr rifle while serving in East Timor last year.

Corporal Paul Dudley yesterday pleaded guilty to eight charges at a court martial which began at Canterbury's Burnham Military Camp.

He is defending seven others, including a charge that he threw hot coffee at one of the two men, Private Samuel Millar, and kicked the other, Private Mark Pullan, 21, while he was detaining a suspect on the ground.

Dudley is also accused of punching Private Pullan, who had been in the Army only a year, because he drew his pistol a fraction too slowly as he came off a Pinzgauer military vehicle.

Private Pullan told the hearing: "After he hit me he grabbed the back of my head and he said if I didn't come off the back of the [vehicle] with my pistol drawn, he was going to shoot me."

When Dudley discovered his indiscretions in East Timor were being investigated, he allegedly told soldiers he was in charge of: "When I find the nark, watch out."

Dudley is also defending a charge that he allowed soldiers on sentry duty at the Becora prison to watch DVDs while on duty.

He admitted to speeding while in an Army vehicle, travelling from his station to the East Timorese capital of Dili out of uniform and against regulations, and telling his subordinates to lie about damage to a Pinzgauer.

He faces imprisonment in a military jail, dismissal from the Army, or a fine on the charges he has admitted.

Dudley was in charge of a section of several soldiers patrolling the streets of Timor and providing security for the prison, a facility housing up to 500 inmates, about 3km from Dili. Private Pullan said he was detaining a man on the ground during a patrol in Timor when he felt Dudley's wrath. "I was halfway standing up as Corporal Dudley kicked me in the side of the thigh."

The impact forced him to drop his pistol, and Pullan said he "freaked out ... I was obviously doing something wrong, but I don't know what".

Under questioning by Dudley's defence counsel, Colonel Craig Ruane, Private Pullan denied it was only a "tap on the thigh" to get his attention.

Private Millar said he believed Dudley had thrown a cup of coffee at him as he walked downstairs at his platoon headquarters in East Timor because he was angry about video footage on his laptop computer.

Dudley is expected to give evidence today as the court martial continues.

- NZ Herald

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