Soldier 'Pale After Body Found'

A soldier accused of murdering a member of his own regiment in north Shropshire looked scared and pale after his alleged victim's body was found, a court has heard.

Lance Corporal Richard Farrell is also said by a witness to have made a series of apparently "out of sequence'' statements after Corporal Geoffrey McNeill was pronounced dead.

The Crown alleges that Farrell, 23, killed Cpl McNeill in a brutal and violent attack at the Royal Irish Regiment's barracks in Tern Hill on March 8 this year.

Giving evidence in the second week of a trial at Birmingham Crown Court, another member of the regiment said he made Farrell a cup of tea shortly after discovering Cpl McNeill's body.

The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said several soldiers, including an armed on-duty guard, gathered in a corridor outside Cpl McNeill's room on the morning of March 8.

Giving evidence from behind a screen, the serviceman told jurors he walked into Cpl McNeill's room and saw his body on the floor.

The soldier said: "It (the room) was a mess, it was trashed, which was very unusual because he kept it clean and tidy.

"I knelt down beside him and checked for a pulse in his neck and didn't find one.''

An ambulance was called, the witness added, and Farrell then walked into the corridor, apparently via a fire exit.

Asked to describe how Farrell had seemed, the witness told jurors: "Scared and with a pale complexion. He looked like he was shocked.''

The witness claimed Farrell told him he had been involved in a fight the previous night and had tried to find Cpl McNeill's room to "to see if everything was okay with us''.

Under questioning from prosecutor Christopher Hotten QC, the witness said Farrell then paced up and down and did not speak.

Another military witness, whose name cannot be reported, denied a suggestion that he had once told Farrell that Cpl McNeill, originally from Ballymoney in Northern Ireland, was nicknamed McNasty as a result of involvement in brawls.

The soldier, a member of the same platoon as Farrell, told the court he was unaware of Cpl McNeill - who he regarded as a friend - having any nickname.

Farrell, who is alleged to have attacked Cpl McNeill at their barracks in the early hours of March 8, denies murder.

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