Grenadier Guardsman Daniel Crook jailed for 18 months for unprovoked attacked on Ghulam Nabi, then 10, in Afghanistan
The government is to pay compensation to the family of a 10-year-old Afghan boy who was bayoneted by a British soldier.
Grenadier Guardsman Daniel Crook could not explain why he stabbed the boy in the kidneys in an unprovoked attack when he was hungover after a heavy session drinking vodka.
Crook was jailed for 18 months and dismissed from the army.
The Ministry of Defence admitted the attack was “appalling” and has agreed to pay compensation. The amount has yet to be agreed.
The boy’s father has told the Guardian that his family has suffered financially as a result of the attack, while his son has missed months of school.
Crook was convicted last year after he pleaded guilty to attacking in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
The court martial heard that one evening in March 2010, he drunk a “considerable quantity” of vodka and became so “drunk and incapable” that he had to be treated by doctors overnight. Prosecutors told the court that the alcohol had been “sent to him in a mineral water bottle contained in a welfare parcel”.
At 9am the next day, his unit left him behind to go out on patrol. Crook followed his unit after arming himself with a pair of grenades and a bayonet. His rifle had been taken off him “as a safety measure”.
Not far from the checkpoint, Crook, still on his own, encountered Ghulam Nabi, then 10, who was on an errand for his father to collect yoghurt.
His father, Shah Zada, said Crook ordered his son to stop. “But he was just a little child and he didn’t understand, otherwise he would have stopped his bicycle immediately,” said the 72-year-old farmer.
Crook “took hold of the boy’s shoulder and stabbed him in the region of his kidneys with his bayonet”, prosecutors from the Service Prosecuting Authority told the court martial. “Crook felt the bayonet pierce the boy’s skin, but did not see if he was bleeding,” they added.
Shortly afterwards, Crook found his unit and admitted he had stabbed a child. He later told military investigators on two occasions that he could not offer any explanation for what he did.
The boy was taken to a hospital in Kandahar. His father said the British gave him a very small amount of money to pay for the medical treatment, adding that his son could not walk, or cycle to school for many months after the attack and found it difficult to lift weight.
Zada said the attack had burdened the family financially as his son was unable to run errands or help to collect grass for their animals. Ghulam has a big scar on his back.
He added that foreign troops were “in Afghanistan to build the country and remove insurgents, not to stab a child”.
The family’s case was taken up by Birmingham-based law firm, Public Interest Lawyers, after the story was revealed in the Guardian.
Daniel Carey, from the firm, said: “Our client is seeking compensation from the Ministry of Defence for the unprovoked attack on him. It is regrettable that medical assistance and adequate compensation were not provided earlier. In view of the ongoing proceedings we have no further comment at this stage.”
A MoD spokesman said: “The MoD has accepted liability for this appalling incident and appropriate compensation will be paid on receipt of medical reports.
“Incidents of this kind are extremely rare but any allegations of ill treatment are investigated thoroughly. Protecting the Afghan civilian population is one of the UK’s top priorities. All British troops undergo comprehensive training on the strict rules of engagement under which UK forces operate.”
Civilian casualties are an embarrassing issue for the government which states that its aim is to protect and rebuild a broken country.
Crook is one of eight British soldiers who have been prosecuted over accusations of killing or injuring Afghan civilians since January 2005.
The Royal Military Police has launched at least 129 investigations into allegations that British forces have killed at least 44 civilians and wounded at least 49 others in Aghanistan in the past seven years.