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UK: Zim-born soldier missed Buckingham Palace shift after too much booze; found passed out on another guardsman’s floor

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By Nadeem Badshah I The Times UK


LONDON: A member of the Grenadier Guards missed his entire shift protecting Buckingham Palace after drinking too much rum and falling asleep on the floor, a court martial was told.

Lance-Sergeant Farai Mabasa had been scheduled to be on duty at 2am but made the “very bad decision” to have a drink with a colleague in his barracks.

The soldier who Mabasa, 36, was supposed to be following on the Queen’s Guard shift repeatedly rang to try to locate him but Mabasa, of Nijmegen Company, had fallen asleep. He was eventually found passed out on another guardsman’s floor at Wellington Barracks.

The court martial was told that when Mabasa returned to the palace later that morning as ordered he turned up smelling of alcohol.

Mabasa, who has two children, initially admitted two charges of unfitness through alcohol and failure to attend for duty and was demoted in rank and sentenced to seven days in detention. This punishment, however, was quashed on a technicality at an appeal hearing at Bulford military court in Wiltshire.

Mabasa, who arrived in the UK from Zimbabwe aged 14, was instead fined 14 days’ pay, which is about £1,365.

The court heard that the incident took place on August 12 this year while the Queen was on her summer holiday in Balmoral. Flight Lieutenant Charlotte Adams said that Mabasa had finished one shift at Buckingham Palace at 10pm and had been due to return at 2am. She said: “[His colleague] checked on his room and the guardroom but [Mabasa] was not there. He tried calling him every five minutes but he didn’t answer his phone.

“Instead [the colleague] stayed on guard for the remainder of the shift. Lance-Sergeant Mabasa was found asleep on the floor. He had been out drinking. He was ordered to report back to Buckingham Palace at 8.30am, where he stumbled into the guardroom smelling of alcohol. He was deemed unfit for duty and sent back to Wellington Barracks.”

Alex Rynn, in mitigation, said that Mabasa had been using alcohol “as a crutch” and since the incident had started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three times a week. He said: “[Mabasa] is deeply ashamed. He knows he has done wrong and is rightly being punished.

“Due to return to Queen’s Guard at 2am, he made a bad decision, a very bad decision, to have a drink with a colleague. He was drinking rum and fell asleep, that’s why he didn’t answer his phone.”

Judge Advocate-General Darren Reed told Mabasa: “We deem this to be serious considering the rank you held at the time. Your unfitness for duty is equally serious. We see this as a wilful disregard for your duty. You rendered yourself unable to perform.”

Mabasa will retain his rank.