/Defence Department charged after death of Private Jason Challis in live-fire exercise

Defence Department charged after death of Private Jason Challis in live-fire exercise


May 09, 2019 19:14:12

The Commonwealth Department of Prosecutions has laid charges against the Defence Department over the death of a young solder during a live-firing exercise at Mount Bundey in the Northern Territory.

Victorian soldier Jason Challis, 25, died after he was shot in the head during the urban firing exercise during Exercise Tigers Run on May 10, 2017, at the training facility about 130 kilometres south-east of Darwin.

An inquest into the death last year found he had no way of knowing that he was standing behind a target contained in a plywood building.

It heard that the Geelong man had been in the Defence Force for 10 months and although he had “field firing” experience, the exercise was his first live-fire urban attack scenario.

The Coroner said the training exercise was “shambolic” and the soldiers had not been given the opportunity to do a dummy run with blank ammunition.

During the inquest, counsel assisting the coroner Kelvin Currie told the inquest the Army’s training systems appeared to have “monumentally failed” Private Challis.

“The level of training of Private Challis and other members of the team for the complexity of the urban operation is an issue for this inquest,” he said.

“There was no walk-through of the ‘village’ by soldiers in Private Challis’s section.

“There were no dry practice runs … so Private Challis didn’t know what he was coming across.”

The Defence Department has now been charged with three breaches of work health and safety laws following an investigation by the regulator Comcare.

They carry a penalty of $1.5 million each.

The case will be heard in the Darwin Local Court next month.









First posted

May 09, 2019 18:57:04