Two trainee soldiers in the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment carried out a “persistent” bullying campaign against a colleague from Northern Ireland, suggesting he was a member of the IRA and was involved in car bombings, a court martial has heard.
Troopers Maxwell Nicholls and Declan Coutts also allegedly put Trooper Scott Alexander in chokeholds and headlocks, repeatedly soaked his bed with water and stole his ironing board and boots, the panel was told.
In addition, Nicholls and Coutts are accused of targeting a Muslim colleague, Trooper Azaan Aziz-Sheikh, with the former allegedly calling him a “little brown man” and both said to have assaulted him, the court martial at Bulford in Wiltshire heard.
Nicholls, who is English, and Coutts, from Scotland, were roommates at a barracks in Windsor with Alexander, who speaks with a strong Northern Irish accent.
Lt Matthew Poulsom, prosecuting, told the court: “Tpr Nicholls and Tpr Coutts launched a persistent bullying campaign against [Alexander]. On multiple occasions they would pin him down, sit on his chest, strangle and choke him, and made racially abusive comments. They frequently made racial slurs against him being Northern Irish, referencing the IRA in a derogatory manner.”
Poulsom claimed that in October 2020 while in a Windsor pub, Nicholls shouted racially abusive comments at Aziz-Sheikh. Nicholls and Coutts allegedly assaulted him back at barracks.
Giving evidence, Alexander said his relationship with his roommates became “unpleasant” within a week. He said: “I had slurs used against me after they picked up on my accent. Lots of derogatory terms were used. Terms about car bombs, I was called Gerry Adams, and they would say I was in the IRA. I believe it was said in quite a targeted manner, not in a banterish way.”
Eleanor Lucas, a lawyer representing Nicholls, said the behaviour was “harmless horseplay between friends”. Cathryn Sutcliffe, for Coutts, accused Alexander of “making it up as he goes along”.
Tpr Jamie Bartlett, who in the pub when racial comments were allegedly made against Aziz-Sheikh, said Nicholls called him a “little brown man”.
The incidents are alleged to have taken place between July and November 2020. Nicholls and Coutts both face one charge of racially aggravated battery on Alexander as well as an alternative charge of battery. The pair also face a conduct charge relating to alleged racial abuse towards Alexander.
Nicholls is charged with two counts of religiously aggravated assault by beating and two alternative counts of battery, all relating to alleged attacks on Aziz-Sheikh. Coutts is charged with battery of Aziz-Sheikh. They deny all the charges.
The trial continues.