A Grenadier Guardsman due to stand guard outside Buckingham Palace failed to show up for his shift because he drank so much rum he passed out, Bulford Military Court heard on Friday, October 28.

Lance-Sergeant Farai Mabasa had been scheduled to be on duty outside the Palace at 2am on August 12 this year but made the “very bad decision” to have a drink with an Army comrade instead.

The soldier who Mabasa was scheduled to be replacing on the Queen’s Guard shift repeatedly tried to call Mabasa, but he had fallen asleep.

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Her Majesty the Queen was on holiday in Balmoral at the time of the incident.

Flight Lieutenant Charlotte Adams told the court martial Mabasa had been standing guard at Buckingham Palace at 10pm but had been due to return four hours later.

She said Lance-Sergeant Mabasa’s colleague had checked on his room and the guardroom but he was not there.

“He tried calling him every five minutes but he didn’t answer his phone," she added.

Instead Lance-Sergeant Mabasa’s colleague stayed on guard for the remainder of the shift.

“Lance-Sergeant Mabasa was found asleep on the floor,” Flt-Lt Adams said. “He had been out drinking. He was ordered to report back to Buckingham Palace at 8.30am, where he stumbled into the guardroom smelling of alcohol. He was deemed unfit for duty and sent back to Wellington Barracks.”

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Mitigating, Alex Rynn told the court martial Mabasa accepted he had a problem with alcohol and since the incident had started attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings three times a week.

"He made a bad decision, a very bad decision, to have a drink with a colleague. He was drinking rum and fell asleep, that’s why he didn’t answer his phone," he said.

“[Mabasa] is deeply ashamed. He knows he has done wrong and is rightly being punished."

Mabasa, who has two children, admitted two charges of unfitness through alcohol and failure to attend for duty.

He was sentenced to seven days in detention and initially demoted in rank although that penalty was reversed on appeal.

Judge Advocate-General Darren Reed told Mabasa: “We deem this to be serious considering the rank you held at the time. Your unfitness for duty is equally serious. We see this as a wilful disregard for your duty. You rendered yourself unable to perform.”

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