A Royal Marine recruit who was later found dead on a railway line received more “thrashings” than anyone else and was shouted and sworn at by non-commissioned officers, an inquest heard.

Connor Clark was just weeks into his military career when his body was discovered on the tracks adjacent to the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon, on the morning of June 12, 2021, writes Rod Minchin from PA.

The 18-year-old, from Norfolk, had completed the third of his four-week recruit orientation phase (ROP) course that all Marines undertake before they begin their initial training when he died.

Days before his death he had misplaced a blank firing adapter for his rifle and had made comments about being a “failure” and the “worst recruit”.

The inquest in Exeter heard recruits would collectively receive a troop “thrashing” – a type of physical punishment such as running, press-ups or squat thrusts – from the corporal instructors if an individual made a mistake.

Recruits described the instructors being “in their face” shouting and swearing calling them a “f****** twat, prick or punk” and “c***”.

They said that many of them made mistakes, but Mr Clark did not seem to improve as time went on.

“Everyone else seemed to be progressing but not him,” said recruit Zac Mizzoni-Dalton.

“I wouldn’t say he was singled out, but in the last week because he was repeatedly failing to meet the high standards, he received many more thrashings than anybody else in the troop. This was apparent to everyone.”

Fellow recruit Stuart Whitelaw said the instructors would “target the weakness not the person”.

“It was never personal. I would say the trainers really put pressure on Connor’s weaknesses and would shout at him more. He had more thrashings than anyone,” he said.

“The trainers could be really intimidating by getting in your face – shouting, swearing and being aggressive.

“They were like that with everyone, not just Connor. He certainly seemed to receive more thrashings than anyone else in the troop.”

Recruit Jack Bridges said: “In training you get told you are the worst troop ever to come through here, you’re useless and things like this.

“They say it to every troop and everyone who goes through there. A lot of it is part and parcel of being in the military.”

Aaron Golding said the other recruits were helping Mr Clark with organising his personal kit.

“It was if he no longer cared about failing and would sit on his bed disinterested and understandably they found this frustrating,” he said.

“Everyone knew by this time he was the only one failing. I recall it was the troop that got punished and not necessarily Connor as an individual.

“The other thing the corporals would do was shout a lot, especially when we were marching.

“If someone went out of step, they would get called all kinds of names and get shouted things like, ‘I am going to bang out your Dad and f*** your family, you c***’.

“We do not take this personally because we knew it was part of the game they played. These rants were never a personal attack.”

Recruit Patrick Service said: “They would get in your face and tell you that you wouldn’t last and constantly swearing and using every name under the sun, such as f****** twat, prick or punk,” he said.

“Connor made many more mistakes than anyone else and was punished more.

“The whole group got punished and we all got a bit fed up with having to all take the punishment because of his repeated errors. No one ever said anything nasty to Connor.”

“Everyone knew him because of his poor performance. His name came up constantly but not for good reasons. His death was a huge shock for everyone.”

Two days before he died, Mr Clark had gone to the sick bay seeking treatment for an injury to his elbow.

He told medical staff he had initially cut his elbow when he fell against a radiator but then had used a knife to reopen the wound to avoid duties.

Mr Clark’s mother, Tracy, told the hearing she spoke with her son the night before he died and he mentioned the elbow injury but not that he had made it worse with a knife.

“I would have driven there myself and taken him home as self-harm is a cry for help,” Mrs Clark said.

“There were no signs to me at that point and Connor and I were very close.

“I know my son and I know how proud he was of making sure his locker was perfect, so not to let down the whole team.

“The thought of doing so by having his gun piece missing and failing the locker room inspection tipped him over the edge.

“The fact the doctor didn’t take his self-harming seriously is beyond me. It is cry for help. There should have been a plan in place to check on him.

“The fact he got out unseen where there is a four-way camera on the fence seems to me of an indication that no one was manning the CCTV room.

“The fact there wasn’t an exterior search for him when it was evident he was out and known he was suicidal after the note was found seems to be a failure on their part.”

The hearing continues.