Navy medic sentenced to seven months in military correction centre for disobeying orders

06/07/2011British Forces News

A Royal Navy medic has been sentenced to seven months’ detention in a military correction facility after being found guilty of disobeying orders by refusing to attend rifle training because of his “moral objection” to bearing arms and the war in Afghanistan.

A Royal Navy medic has been sentenced to seven months’ detention in a military correction facility after being found guilty of disobeying orders by refusing to attend rifle training because of his “moral objection” to bearing arms and the war in Afghanistan.

Leading Medical Assistant Michael Lyons denied the offence at the court martial trial at Portsmouth Naval Base.

He was also demoted to the rank of able seaman and dismissed from the service.

His supporters stood up and applauded as he was marched from the court.

The court martial heard that Lyons, 25, from Plymouth, Devon, had been issued with his order to deploy to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, in May last year.

He then applied through his superior officer to be considered as a conscientious objector in August.

But this was refused a week before he was due to attend the SA80 service rifle training at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth, Hampshire, on September 20.

On that day, he reported to Warrant Officer Robert Bainbridge and stated that he could not start the course because he had a “moral objection to bearing arms” and asked to be “re-rolled for non-combative duties”, leading him to be charged with disobeying a lawful order.

He then entered his appeal over his conscientious objector status to the Advisory Committee on Conscientious Objectors (ACCO), which was rejected on December 17.

Fiona Edington, defending, said medics had a “protected status” under the Geneva convention, meaning that they were non-combatants who had a right to bear arms for self-defence and the protection of a patient.

She added that Lyons had developed a moral objection to the war in Afghanistan since he originally joined the navy at the age of 18.

She said: “Throughout the time he has behaved with impeccable politeness.

“This is an isolated incident by a man with a conscience.”

Commander Darren Reed, prosecuting, said: “What distinguishes a military force from an armed mob is discipline.”

Last December, Lyons became the first person to appear before ACCO for 14 years.

The committee rejected his claim, saying he was a “political objector” not a “conscientious objector”.

The court martial heard that Lyons was still awaiting formal notification from Defence Secretary Liam Fox.

Ms Edington said: “He (Lyons) remains, in his eyes, a conscientious objector.”


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