Anti-Afghan War Awol soldier Joe Glenton jailed

L/Cpl Joe Glenton was absent for two years and six days

5 March 2010

A soldier who refused to return to Afghanistan because he opposes the war has been jailed after admitting going absent without leave (Awol).

L/Cpl Joe Glenton, 27, from York, joined the Army in 2004 but absconded in 2007 after serving with the Royal Logistic Corps in Afghanistan.

He handed himself in after two years and six days' absence.

Glenton, based in Oxfordshire, was jailed for nine months in Colchester and reduced to the rank of private.

The court martial was told that Glenton, who later campaigned against the conflict, was discovered to be absent on 11 June 2007, when he was due to return to Dalton Barracks in Abingdon.

He returned to barracks 737 days later on 16 June 2009, when he was charged.  During that time Glenton went to south-east Asia and Australia.  He had previously performed a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.  When he returned he was ordered to go back to the conflict zone.

Nick Wrack, in mitigation, told the court martial that this was nine months after his previous tour had finished, even though military guidelines suggest soldiers should not be deployed again within 18 months.

Mr Wrack said Glenton had suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his first tour of duty.

'Coward and malingerer'

He told the court that when Glenton raised concerns about going back he suffered bullying.

"When he first raised with his staff sergeant his reluctance to be deployed again, instead of being dealt with in a sensible way, it resulted in the sergeant at the time bullying and intimidating L/Cpl Glenton," he said, "he was called a coward and a malingerer.  When this information was brought to his commanding officer, the sergeant was spoken to, but this reinforced the bullying."

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

Glenton took part in an anti-war protest in October last year.

After the hearing 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."

His mother, Sue Glenton, said: "I am extremely angry. The court barely paid lip service to justice.

"The judge clearly didn't listen to the arguments or if she did she ignored them. The lawyers are considering an appeal.

"The Ministry of Defence will be hearing a lot more from me."