AWOL Soldier Faces Jail

5 March 2010, 14:42 | Updated: 5 March 2010, 14:45

A soldier who went absent without leave (Awol) rather than serve a second tour in Afghanistan, has been jailed for nine months.

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, who was also reduced to the ranks, was sentenced at a military court in Colchester, after admitting the Awol charge.

The court martial hearing was told that Glenton, who later campaigned against the conflict, was discovered to be absent on June 11, 2007, when he was due to return to Dalton Barracks in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. He was absent for 737 days before handing himself in, prosecutor Group Captain Tim Backer said.

He said that the 27-year-old had performed a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006 serving with the Royal Logistic Corps. When Glenton returned he was ordered to go back to the conflict zone after nine months even though
military guidelines suggest soldiers should not be deployed again within 18 months.

Mitigating, Nick Wrack, told the court that when Glenton raised concerns about going back he suffered bullying. He said Glenton had suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his first stint in the war zone.

Glenton, who joined the army in 2004, returned to barracks on June 16, 2009, when he was charged. During his two years and six days Awol he went to south east Asia and Australia.

Consultant psychiatrist Lars Davidsson told the court that Glenton may have reacted the way he did because of PTSD.

Mr Wrack said that Glenton, who served with the 4 Logistic Support Regiment, joined the army with a ``wave of enthusiasm''. He said: "He was told that the troops' presence in Afghanistan would improve the country, that democracy would
be bought and that the position of women would improve. This motivated him to go. His experience and reality conflicted with what he had been told.

"More and more he began to see that the conflict in Afghanistan was wrong. He spoke out about it, perhaps in a bold fashion. He questioned the morality and legality of the war, and spoke publicly about it when he returned."

A spokesman for the Stop The War Coalition said: "Joe Glenton is not the person who should be facing a jail sentence. It should be the politicians who have led us into disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact that they are not brings shame to justice in this country."