Two soldiers in the Household Cavalry have been cleared of racially abusing a colleague from Northern Ireland after claiming jokes about him being an IRA terrorist were “boisterous banter”.
The troopers, Maxwell Nicholls, 22, and Declan Coutts, 24, were also acquitted of attacking a Muslim colleague at their barracks in Windsor.
The pair conceded they called Tpr Scott Alexander “Gerry Adams” and a “terrorist” and made jibes about the IRA but said everyone was subject to similar jokey insults.
Alexander told a court martial he felt demoralised by what he perceived as verbal abuse and claimed he was also the victim of physical attacks and pranks.
But the two soldiers denied carrying out malicious attacks, with Nicholls claiming it was no more than boisterous behaviour and Coutts saying Alexander “was good at dishing it out but not taking it”.
As the board delivered not guilty verdicts to all nine charges faced by the pair at Bulford military court, Wiltshire, Nicholls and Coutts stood side by side in uniform with their arms by their sides and showed no emotion.
After the board left the courtroom, the soldiers, who are members of the Blues and Royals, part of the Household Cavalry, turned to each other and smiled.
Nicholls had told the court: “We never assaulted him. We had boisterous banter.” Coutts said Alexander made jokes about himself and the IRA, adding: “I can appreciate that jokes about the IRA can be deeply offensive but if someone from that heritage is making those jokes then it can be played with.”
The pair, who were trainees at the time of the incidents in 2020, were also cleared of attacking another colleague, Azaan Aziz-Sheikh, after a night out in Windsor.