Airman faces Iraqi death crash charge

A SUFFOLK airman caused the deaths of five Iraqi women when he drove his Land Rover at “a right angle” across a three-lane highway near Basra in Iraq, a military court heard yesterday.

A SUFFOLK airman caused the deaths of five Iraqi women when he drove his Land Rover at “a right angle” across a three-lane highway near Basra in Iraq, a military court heard yesterday.

Senior Aircraftman James Bowskill, 25, had been manning a road check-point in February 2004 when he pulled off the hard shoulder and crashed into a four-wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado containing at least six Iraqi adults, the court martial in Colchester, Essex, was told.

Bowskill, a member of 2 Squadron RAF Regiment based at RAF Honington near Bury St Edmunds, denies causing death by dangerous driving. His trial is expected to end later this week.

During yesterday's hearing, Group Captain Geoff Harding, prosecuting, told the court that Bowskill had been manning a mobile vehicle checkpoint with other members of the Regiment on the westbound carriageway of a highway known to servicemen as Route Hexagon, shortly before the crash.


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He said the checkpoint was being “collapsed” and Bowskill was aiming to cut across the road and drive on to the eastbound carriageway through a gap in the central reservation.

The accident happened as Bowskill, whose family live near Nottingham, pulled off the hard shoulder and began to cross the westbound carriageway, he added.

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“A civilian vehicle came along the road, under the bridge, and the Iraqi driver and passengers were surprised to see a Land Rover pull out from the hard shoulder area, with the apparent intention of crossing the motorway, almost at a right angle,” said Group Captain Harding.

“There was no time for the Iraqi vehicle to avoid the collision. The Iraqi vehicle sustained quite severe damage, and as a result of this collision, the civilian vehicle rolled over several times before coming to a halt.

He added: “Five female passengers died as a result of this collision. Some of these passengers were thrown out on to the road as a result of this collision. “Tragically, they died either immediately or shortly after, as a result of their injuries.”

Group Captain Harding continued: “It is a tragic case. Five people died. “Regardless of the outcome of this case, the accused will no doubt have to live with his role in the collision for some time to come.”

The hearing was adjourned until today, when the court is due to begin hearing evidence.

Bowskill's RAF Regiment is mainly responsible for guarding RAF bases either in the UK or abroad.

Servicemen from the regiment flew to the Middle East several times following the outbreak of the Iraqi conflict.

Airmen from Honington began a four-month stint in Iraq at the beginning of 2004, after receiving specialist training to prepare them to work in and around Basra.

Bowskill has been accused of breaching British traffic law - which applied to servicemen and women no matter where they are based.

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