Halifax soldier jailed for six years for trying to murder Catterick ‘bully’

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A Halifax trainee soldier who stabbed a knife into the bed of a comrade who was allegedly bullying him at a Yorkshire army base has been jailed for six years for attempted murder.

Private James Farrell, 18, lashed out at the “ringleader” of a group of fellow trainees who were targeting him at Catterick Garrison, an earlier court martial at Colchester Garrison in Essex heard.

The blow was aimed at Rifleman Curtis Horbury’s head and he had to roll out of the way to avoid being stabbed, prosecutors said.

Farrell said he had no intention of hitting him with the knife and just wanted to scare him to make him leave him alone, but was convicted of attempted murder following a three-day trial last month.

Vice-Judge Advocate General Michael Hunter and a military board of five officers sentenced Farrell, who appeared in full military uniform, at Colchester Garrison on Monday.

Mr Hunter told Farrell: “You reacted in the way you did because you were being verbally bullied and because you couldn’t take it.”

Describing it as an “unusual” case in which nobody was injured, he said: “Following that blow, instead of retrieving the knife and continuing your actions you took no further action.

“You did nothing. This, we find, is because although you had clearly intended to kill, you at that point realised the enormity of what you had just intended to do.”

He added that it was “only by chance” that Rifleman Horbury was not killed.

Farrell, who will also be dismissed from the Army, will serve half his sentence in prison and the rest on licence.

The soldier had told his trial that for weeks he was verbally abused, physically struck “a few times” and that his roommates would throw rubbish including half-empty Coke cans into his bed space.

He said on the night in question he was verbally bullied, went out to a smoking area to calm down, but “lost it” when he came back in to his dormitory and saw Rifleman Horbury “smirking” on November 13 2016.

Commander Douglas Ward, prosecuting, said that Farrell had chosen his victim while out in the smoking area.

He said the bullying allegations were now the subject of an ongoing independent investigation by the Royal Military Police (RMP).

In a victim impact statement made at the time of the incident, Rifleman Horbury said: “The incident made me feel shocked and scared.

“If I was to walk by Rifleman Farrell I would be worried about what he was going to do.

“However, in about three days’ time I would be OK if he was in the room.”

Brian Russell, mitigating, said the incident was spontaneous and Farrell was aged 17 at the time.

“There was a smirking by Mr Horbury which made him lose his temper,” he said.

Farrell, who is from Halifax and was with the 2nd Infantry Training Battalion, also admitted possessing 42 rounds of live ammunition and 30 rounds of blank ammunition and was sentenced for all matters together.

He was jailed for six years for attempted murder and four months for the ammunition offences, with the terms to run concurrently.