Byline: By RICHARD SMITH and CHRIS HUGHES
A SOLDIER was "beasted" to death by being pushed over the brink in a punishment hell, it was claimed yesterday.
Gavin Williams, 22, died after allegedly being forced to endure an hour-long session of running and carrying weights in 29C heat.
An 18-year-old woman friend of the squaddie said in despair: "They disciplined him until he died by making him exercise in the scorching heat carrying weights.
"He begged them to stop. He thought he'd collapse but they carried on. I can't believe the lack i of a sense of humour resulted carried on. I can't bel in his death."
Early on Sunday the 22-year-old Private - nicknamed Will - playfully squirted a fire extinguisher at an officer after drinking with friends at a nightclub following England's World Cup defeat.
The following day he was forced to endure a gruelling hour-long punishment drill in burning 29C temperatures.
It is feared the ordeal was deliberate "beasting" in which an exhausted victim is pushed to his physical limits. Gavin collapsed and died in hospital.
Five NCOs are being quizzed over suspected manslaughter. One is believed to be a physical training instructor.
As his regimental flag flew at halfmast at Lucknow Barracks, in Tidworth, Wilts, Gavin's friend said: "What they did to him was payback for a stupid joke.
"Will had already had quite bit to drink when I met up with him.
"We all had a good time at the club and returned to barracks at about 2.30am on Sunday.
"We stood outside the guardroom having a chat before going our separate ways.
"Will's room was near the officer's mess. They were having some sort of a do, so he got a fire extinguisher from the wall and squirted one of them as a joke.
"You'd have thought they'd have had a sense of humour. But the next day a group made him work really hard as punishment.
"About lunchtime he collapsed and was taken to a medical centre on site, then rushed to Salisbury Hospital."
The girl said she was at the hospital with her injured brother at the time and saw her boyfriend who was in the same regiment as Gavin.
She said: "He was white with shock because a doctor had just told him Will was in intensive care. At about 4pm the doctor came out again and told us that Will was dead.
"My boyfriend was interviewed by police because he'd driven past where they were exercising Will. …