Punishment game marines avoid prison

FOUR senior marines have avoided jail for failing to stop junior ranks hitting each other’s backsides with a 2ft strap known as ‘Big Red’.

Sergeants Richard Melia and Ian Spence and Corporals Robert Wake and John Arnett all pleaded guilty to four counts of failing to perform their public duty on October 28, 2014.

Yesterday they were sentenced to a four-month prison sentence suspended for a year.

The court heard how new joiners would stand with their trousers and underwear around their ankles surrounded by other marines.

They would then take up the challenge of telling a story or singing a song but if he failed to entertain, he would be subject to the painful punishment, called ‘reefing’.

The defendants, who no longer work in the forces, ‘encouraged’ the activities, held at a bar at the 42 Commando barracks at Bickleigh, near Plymouth.

Judge Advocate Robert Hill told the court martial at Portsmouth Naval Base: ‘It’s designed to inflict gratuitous violence on new joiners.’