Ben Roberts-Smith told ‘pull your head in’ over mock execution, court hears

A former elite soldier has told the Federal Court that he warned war veteran Ben Roberts-Smith to “pull his head in” after he heard the decorated soldier had ordered the mock execution of a comrade posing as a prisoner.

The former soldier known as Person 31 said he was told in 2012 that Mr Roberts-Smith had directed another soldier, Person 10, to pretend to execute a fake Afghan prisoner during a training exercise.

Ben Roberts-Smith outside the Federal Court earlier this month.Credit:Louise Kennerley

He recalled seeing Persons 9, 10 and Mr Roberts-Smith from a distance in a mock Afghan compound during the exercise, he told the court.

After the training session, Person 31 said, a soldier dubbed Person 7 said words to the effect of: “Oh, for f—‘s sake, Mr Roberts-Smith has had Person 10 do a scenario of executing a PUC,” meaning a person under the control of Australian troops. He said he was told the soldier posing as the prisoner was Person 9.

Person 10 gave evidence last week that Mr Roberts-Smith ordered him to carry out the mock execution, and he responded with “bang, bang” to indicate he had shot Person 9.

Person 31, a former Special Air Service soldier whose identity cannot be revealed for national security reasons, said the alleged incident was “spoken of” and was “somewhat concerning”.

“I recall walking past Mr Roberts-Smith outside the mess accommodation and … we had a quick chat,” he said.

Person 31 said he had told Mr Roberts-Smith words to the effect of: “F—, you know, pull your head in, you can’t be doing that shit.” He said it was “a very quick conversation” and Mr Roberts-Smith looked down, grunted, nodded, and walked off.

Asked by Mr Roberts-Smith’s barrister, Arthur Moses, SC, if he explained what “that shit” was, Person 31 said he “didn’t spell it out”. “I felt that we both knew what we were talking about,” he said. He denied he was making up the conversation, or that the conversation with Person 7 hadn’t happened.

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