Senior soldiers in positions of authority knew about a plan to capture a colleague in an alleged initiation ritual during a field exercise in Townsville last year.

No one intervened.

Five junior soldiers are facing trial over the incident in which a group, allegedly dressed in their undies and a smattering of armour, wrestled a colleague from his swag and restrained him with cable ties.

Other senior solders witnessed a group wrestle the man from his bed, restrain him and carry him off, a corporal told the proceedings on Wednesday.

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Lance Corporal Blake Ferrington-May, Private Sharun Kachappillil-Shajee and Troopers Thomas Flemming, James Foschi and James Mulholl each face a single charge of forcibly confining Trooper Liam Richard Sohier during the 2nd Cavalry Regiment's Exercise Brolga and Eagle Walk on May 5 last year. They have all pleaded not guilty.

The court martial proceedings held at the RAAF Base Townsville continued on Thursday.

The case against the five men alleged a soldier was captured against his will, eventually cut free from his ­restraints and given a headstart before pursuers barked like dogs and chased him through the dark.

Squadron Sergeant of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment James Wakely gave evidence saying he heard about a plan to kidnap Trooper Sohier as part of an initiation ritual after the soldiers planning it were told they could not proceed with their initial plan.

"As much as I can remember they were going to come up with a plan of taking or kidnapping a member instead," he said.

The land component of the 2RAR live fire Sea Sabre exercise at High Range. 2nd Calvary Regiment ASLAV vehicles supported the live fire exercise.
The land component of the 2RAR live fire Sea Sabre exercise at High Range. 2nd Calvary Regiment ASLAV vehicles supported the live fire exercise.

Corporal Greg Sagacio said he had been near Sergeant Wakely and Artificer Sergeant Major Evan Deards, one of the highest ranked on the trip, when he heard about the plan.

"They said OK we will grab someone and that is when Trooper Sohier's name came up," Corporal Sagacio said.

Corporal Sagacio told the court he had been standing with ASM Deards when they saw a group of people "grab" Trooper Sohier.

"I didn't think anything of it, to be honest," he said.

"They grabbed him and carried him away. By the sound of his voice, he wasn't happy."

Sergeant Wakely gave evidence that he did not step in, because he thought what was unfolding was "fairly tame".

Ferrington-May, who holds the highest rank among the defendants, is accused of giving the order for the others to capture Trooper Sohier.

In a video interview played to the court on Thursday, Ferrington-May said he issued the order as part of "person under capture" training and not as a hazing challenge.

Originally published as Senior soldiers under the spotlight in trial



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