Airman cleared of causing death crash

AN AIRMAN from Suffolk spoke of his relief last night after he was cleared of causing a crash which left five Iraqi women dead.Senior Aircraftman James Bowskill, 25, a member of 2 Squadron RAF Regiment based at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, had denied any wrongdoing in the accident near Basra in February 2004.

AN AIRMAN from Suffolk spoke of his relief last night after he was cleared of causing a crash which left five Iraqi women dead.

Senior Aircraftman James Bowskill, 25, a member of 2 Squadron RAF Regiment based at RAF Honington, near Bury St Edmunds, had denied any wrongdoing in the accident near Basra in February 2004.

Judge Advocat Michael Elsom yesterday dismissed the case against Senior Aircraftman Bowskill at a court martial in Colchester after concluding there was insufficient evidence against him.

He told the five officer panel at the end of the prosecution case: "The evidence is contradictory and unreliable and it is my duty to stop this trial."

He ordered the panel to formally find Senior Aircraftman Bowskill not guilty.

As the airman left court holding girlfriend Debbie Concannon's hand, he issued a statement through his solicitor saying: "It has been a very great strain and I am relieved it is all over. I have always denied my driving caused this terrible accident and I am relieved the judge has decided there is no case to answer.

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"I have nothing but sympathy for the people killed and injured in the accident, but I have always said I did not cause it. I would like to thank my unit for their continuing support throughout and my friends and family for standing by me."

The court martial was told an armoured Land Rover driven by Senior Aircraftman Bowskill was in collision with a taxi on a three-lane highway at around 7.30am.

Taxi driver Mohammed Hussain, 33, who was driving an estate car containing 14 people, said the military Land Rover drove across the motorway at "90 degrees" and into the side of the taxi.

But an airman operating a turret gun on the back of the Land Rover told the court Senior Aircraftman Bowskill was parked on the hard shoulder when the taxi crashed into the front left-hand corner of the armoured vehicle.

And lawyers for Senior Aircraftman Bowskill, whose family live near Nottingham, maintained the taxi was out of control and had skidded into the Land Rover.

The court heard Senior Aircraftman Bowskill had been manning a vehicle checkpoint with other members of his unit shortly before the accident.

The taxi was taking passengers on a visit to a holy shrine.

It rolled over at least three times following the collision, resulting in the deaths of five women passengers, the court heard.

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