AWOL squaddie hands himself in after six years

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A DISGRACED Wigan squaddie who went AWOL from the Armed Forces for six years is to face military justice.

Ryan Smith handed himself in to police on Saturday afternoon, placing a phone call to officers in order to tell them he believed he was wanted by the British Army.

Smith, of Derby Street, Ince, appeared at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court to admit he was a long-term deserter from the Forces.

The court heard how the notice served on Smith for abandoning his duties without permission dated back to 2007.

Mystery still surrounds the case as no explanation was offered of where he had been for such a long period of time or how he had escaped the notice of the Army for several years.

As he admitted the charge Smith, 24, was not represented by a defence solicitor in court.

Justices agreed to hand him over to two Army officers who had travelled to court in order to collect him and take him back to his barracks, and he will now face action under the military’s legal system.

Most offences committed by members of the Armed Forces are dealt with through a summary hearing presided over by a commanding officer.

However, more serious offences committed by military personnel are tried by the Court Martial, with possible punishments including prison sentences, a period of up to two years at the Military Corrective Training Centre in Essex, fines and dismisssal from the Armed Forces either honourably or in disgrace.