“My Horror at POW Sex Abuse Pictures”
The young mum who uncovered the Iraqi POW sex snaps scandal said last night: “I felt sick to the stomach at those pictures.”
Kelly Tilford, 22, called police after developing a film in her photo shop.
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Fusilier Gary Bartlam, 18, of Tamworth, Staffs, is being grilled by the Army’s top criminal investigator — amid fears the scandal is the tip of an iceberg.
Disgusted Kelly said she knew she had to call police after seeing the horrific scenes in Gulf War II snaps she had just developed.
Kelly said: “I immediately realised something terribly wrong had happened and something had to be done about it.
“I started shaking and was panicking in case the guy came back before I could raise the alarm.”
She spoke out last night as Bartlam, of the 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was in custody.
Four snaps on Bartlam’s roll of 25 exposures shocked the mum-of-two.
One [picture] was apparently taken in a warehouse. It showed a man stripped at least to the waist and suspended high in the air by a rope attached to one of the forks on a fork-lift truck.
More rope bound him throughout the length of his body.
He was hanging horizontally and his frightened face was in close-up. A soldier driving the fork-lift truck could be seen in the background, staring at his victim and apparently laughing.
Another picture showed a pair of white legs and the head of a male Iraqi.
The hand of a man behind the Iraqi’s head appeared to be forcing him to perform oral sex.
The Iraqi was squatting and again appeared to be at least naked to the waist. The soldier’s face was not visible.
A third picture showed a pair of bare backsides. One Iraqi man was on his knees on the floor with his body bent.
Another was pressed behind him, tightly moulding his body like a spoon in what seemed to be a sexual position.
The fourth snap showed two naked Iraqis cowering on the ground as if thrown there.
Kelly, who has children aged two and eight months, said Fusilier Bartlam called at the Max Spielmann photo shop where she works in Tamworth, Staffs, on Wednesday.
The young soldier, who was home on leave after the war, left a roll of film to be developed into 7in x 5in prints within an hour.
She went on: “I went to the mini-lab. As you put the film through, you are meant to check the pictures on a screen to ensure they are printed properly.
“You have never got time to watch all of them, because you are inevitably doing something else. We had been very busy.
“I had already processed the films of one or two soldiers back from Iraq and had told them, ‘Congratulations, well done,’ when they came to collect their photos.
[Note: to see a sketch of the “Fork-lift horror … artist’s impression of Iraqi PoW’s ordeal,” please go to link at top of article.]
“But when I started cutting the negatives on this batch, I looked at one and noticed immediately that it seemed a bit strange. I took a closer look.
“At first appearance, it had seemed like soldiers having a laugh.
“Then I realised it was a half-naked Iraqi being hauled high into the air by a forklift truck while bound hand and foot.
“I saw the look on his face. He was petrified.
“I will never forget that terrible stare. I immediately thought, ‘That’s not right’.
“Then I saw some sexual pictures. One looked like an Iraqi POW being forced to give a soldier oral sex. I think the Iraqi was naked — you could just see the top half of him and the bottom half of the soldier.
“There was also a close-up of the naked backsides of two Iraqis, as if they were simulating anal sex.
“Another shot showed two Iraqis lying naked on the ground as if they had just been thrown there. There didn’t seem anything wrong with the other photos. They were just pictures of Iraqi soldiers surrendering — the sort of thing you saw on the TV during the war.”
Kelly, who has only worked at the shop for eight weeks, said: “It should have cost the guy £5.99 but he never paid for those pictures in the end.
“I was worried and waited for my colleague to come back from lunch. She just took one look and said, ‘Oh my gosh — we have got to call the police’.
“We phoned our area manager to tell him what we were doing.
“The lad was due back any minute to collect his photos, so we agreed to tell him they were not ready because there was a problem with the machine.
“He came back before the police arrived. We told him the machine was not working and it would be another half an hour.
Shock … Kelly spotted photos
“As I said that he blushed — as if he knew something was wrong. He stayed in the shop 15 to 20 minutes and I could not bring myself to look at him.
“I eventually said, ‘Look, we have got to get a technician out. If you want to call back’. I told him to leave his telephone number so we could call when the film was ready.
“He agreed and just as he was leaving, a police sergeant arrived. Fortunately it was a detective in plain clothes, so the soldier was none the wiser.
“There was nothing we could do at that stage because he had not seen the pictures.
“After the detective saw them, he contacted his office and we rang the soldier to say the film was ready for collection.
“When he came into the shop, the sergeant was waiting for him and called out his name. The lad said ‘Yeah’ and confessed to the copper that the pictures were his.
“The officer showed him his badge and took him through to the back of the shop. He went straight away. He didn’t struggle or anything.
“About half an hour later an unmarked blue car pulled up outside and they took him away. The police then came back later to take a statement from me about what I saw.
“The lad was in some of the pictures, but not all of them.
“I don’t know which photos he had taken and which had been taken of him, because some were such close-ups you could not see the faces of those involved.
Kelly added: “I don’t feel guilty about calling in the police. I know people who have been fighting in Iraq.
“I am as proud as anybody of what our forces did out there — but there are rules.
“I would not want any of my friends to be treated like those Iraqis on the photographs. We are a great nation.
“But we would lose our self-respect and much more besides if we allowed ourselves and our troops to stoop this low.”
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers served in Iraq with the 7th Armoured Brigade, the legendary Desert Rats of World War II fame. The regiment is based in Celle, Germany.
Major General Ken Perkins, The Sun’s military adviser, said last night: “This involves a breakdown in discipline going far beyond one or two soldiers.
“Individuals might occasionally get away with it unknown to their officers or NCOs.
“But there is something very wrong if a number can do it without their superiors knowing or discovering it.
“The Army has no place for NCOs and officers who condone such behaviour, or are too weak to prevent it.”
The controversy is the latest to hit British troops over their alleged behaviour in the Gulf.
Lt Col Tim Collins, former CO of the 1st Royal Irish Regiment, is being investigated over accusations he mistreated Iraqi civilians and PoWs.
The Bartlam and Collins inquiries are not connected.
DO YOU know Fusilier Gary Bartlam? Call The Sun on 020 7782 4105. We’ll call you straight back.
‘More to come’
By John Kay
The Army probe into the photos scandal has been stepped up amid fears that a “hornets’ nest” of horror could be unearthed.
Lt Col Jeremy Green, commanding officer of the Special Investigations Branch, last night took personal charge of the inquiry.
And a source close to the investigation said: “There is a genuine fear that this is not just a scandal involving one 18-year-old Fusilier.
“Our biggest worry is that the reputation of 1 Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, will be besmirched.”
Fuslier Gary Bartlam, 18, is being held in custody at an Army base where he is being grilled by senior Special Investigation Branch officers. He is unlikely to be released until the probe is completed.
One source said that some of the photos appeared to show simulated sex acts but “even if that is so, it would not excuse the behaviour.”
A Royal Military Police source said: “We are braced for more scandals to come out — it could become a real hornets’ nest with more horrific revelations.
“But we have a duty to investigate thoroughly and no stone will be left unturned.
“Whatever the circumstances, there is no excuse for British soldiers to maltreat POWs. Our first job is to establish how many of the regiment may be involved.
“That includes finding out if NCOs and platoon commander [non-commissioned officers and commissioned officers] knew of these activities.”
Lt Col Green immediately widened the probe to cover the entire regiment.
A lieutenant who was Bartlam’s platoon commander, plus a sergeant and three corporals, will be quizzed and statements taken from others in Bartlam’s platoon.
A senior Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “If there is any truth in these allegations the MoD is appalled and would stress we take our responsibilities to POWs extremely seriously.”