Female British soldier, 19, who 'stabbed her best friend in the neck with a glass in Magaluf nig
Few recruits, surely, could have looked more impressive than Sydney Cole on the day of her passing out parade at The Army Foundation College in Harrogate, Yorkshire, in 2017.
Everything was just so, from the tilt of her black and red cap, to the creases in her crisply pressed khaki uniform, and her shiny shoes, buttons and belt buckle.
A promising career beckoned for Cole, daughter of a one-time bus driver from Hertfordshire.
She joined the Adjutant General's Corps, whose staff serve alongside and administer every unit in the Army. The motto of the Corps is 'Animo et Fide', which is Latin for courage and faith.
Sydney Cole (right) is accused of attacking fellow soldier Sarah Ann Garrity (left) in Magaluf
The ideals those words are supposed to signify extend beyond the battlefield; the Army expects 'very high standards of behaviour' at all times, both on — and off — duty. We now know that Sydney Cole failed to meet those standards.
In the early hours of Monday, Cole, 19, was arrested on suspicion of slashing her best friend's throat in Majorca. The victim was fellow soldier Sarah Ann Garrity, 22.
She was glassed, allegedly, after intervening in a row between Cole and a third servicewoman — Deborah Ferguson — outside the Bananas club on Magaluf's infamous Punta Ballena strip. Moments later, panic-stricken screams filled the Spanish night air and witnesses told of blood pouring from Miss Garrity's neck.
Miss Garrity underwent emergency surgery before being moved from intensive care to a general ward at Hospital Universitario Son Espases in the Majorcan capital Palma.
Investigations are continuing, but, so far, Miss Cole has not been charged with any offence and has been allowed to fly home after Sarah Ann Garrity decided not to press charges.
In the early hours of Monday, Cole, 19, was arrested on suspicion of slashing her best friend's throat in Majorca
Nevertheless, the circumstances surrounding the fracas, following a 14-hour drinking session, do not reflect well on any of the parties involved.
One image in particular encapsulates recent events on the riotous party island. It is Cole, in ripped denim shorts, with a tattoo on her thigh on display, being escorted into court this week between two officers from the Civil Guard.
What an unfortunate advert for women in the British Army. The Magaluf incident is troubling in itself. The wider, disturbing narrative, though, is that Sydney Cole represents a more widespread, largely unreported story.
The loutish behaviour associated with 'squaddies' in military towns such as, say, Colchester — and abroad, in places like Cyprus — is being mirrored by a growing number of women in the ranks. Sometimes, it is hard to tell who is downing the pints — or throwing the punches. This is one area, at least, where there is unwelcome equality. Some behaviour has resulted in criminal prosecutions.
These are a few of the headlines which have appeared in local papers, up and down the country, over recent years: 'Drunk female trooper in 3am sex assault on male Windsor Castle guard'... 'Soldier nicknamed GI Jane hit a man and a woman with ONE punch after she was ejected from a nightclub'... 'Soldier in court after Clitheroe party fracas'.
But what we are predominantly talking about is 'laddish', not criminal, conduct, fuelled by alcohol. So Sydney Cole is in good, or rather bad, company in this respect.
The attack happened at around 1am on Monday and police have launched a full investigation, with Cole (pictured) being arrested
The Army employs 13,000 women, just over 10 per cent of total personnel, who have performed selflessly and with distinction in a huge array of jobs which, for the past three years, has included 'ground close combat' posts on the frontline.
But to quote one retired commanding officer, some of our servicemen and women need a 'sharp reminder of the values that make our military the envy of the world'. Standards epitomised by the late Joanna Henderson.
During her time as director of the Women's Royal Army Corps (WRAC) in the 1960s, Brigadier Dame Kelleher, as she later became, oversaw the massive expansion of roles for women who would in the future join other regiments when the WRAC was disbanded in 1992. On duty or off — when she favoured a black suit and pale pink blouse fastened with a brooch — the brigadier was always immaculately turned out.
One wonders what she would have made of tattooed Sydney Cole and her pals — that's a rhetorical question, by the way.
It is apparent from their social media profiles that their exploits in party town Magaluf, before the violent confrontation at the Bananas disco, was perhaps the norm, not the exception. In December, all three were pictured in London together at Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland, which is among the more respectable images of them — of Miss Garrity and Cole, anyway.
Ms Garrity, pictured.
Two weeks ago, Glasgow-born Miss Garrity, who now lives in Middlesbrough where she was engaged until recently to a female soldier, captioned her most recent photograph on Instagram: 'Completely ruined my life this weekend #neverdrinkagain #wedding #friends #shots #mess #ruinedmylife #bestimes #living #drunk'.
Indeed, 'drinking', 'gin', 'girls' nights out' and getting 'smashed' are words which recur time and again in her posts.
Only a month ago, she and Cole appeared in a selfie together sporting matching shirts for what they called a 's*** shirt night' alongside breaking news: '#lesbian #smashed'.
Cole's shirt is open, exposing her bra and cleavage.
Yet it is precisely these kinds of individual — or this same demographic, at any rate — who are being targeted in the Army's latest recruitment campaign.
It was launched in January with a poster featuring the slogan 'Me, Me, Me Millennials, Your Army Needs You', with the aim of turning negative stereotypes into strengths that are badly needed in the Armed Forces — such as, for example, the 'compassion' of 'snowflakes' and the confidence of 'selfie addicts'.
Critics, however, will take some persuading, convinced that the argument is being driven, not by sound judgment, but simply falling numbers of recruits — with ever fewer young people coming forward to serve Queen and Country — and will inevitably lead to a further erosion in standards, typified, they might add, by the behaviour of Sydney Cole and others in Magaluf.
The chain of events, which led to what locals are calling the 'bloodbath at Bananas', actually began the night before the incident, which took place on Monday.
In her statement to the judge at the court in Palma, leaked to the Majorcan press, Cole revealed: 'We began drinking at 11am in the hotel [the girls shared the same room], afterwards in a bar and then again in the room.
Then we went to an event with a free bar and we had shots, vodka, gin and other drinks.' Still, they were not finished.
In the evening they could be found among throngs of Britons at a 'foam party' in the notorious Car Wash club, where a £15 entrance ticket includes unlimited free alcohol and entry to Bananas disco next door, which has a flashing slogan outside informing anyone who can stand up, let alone read: 'Bananas does it big.'
What happened next depends on who you believe — Cole or witnesses at the scene.
The common denominator is that, by the early hours, Cole and Ferguson had fallen out and were engaged in a very public slanging match outside Bananas.
Miss Garrity, who is a clerk in the Royal Logistics Corp, tried to calm them down but, according to Cole's statement, ended up punching her in the face instead.
Cole retaliated, it was reported, by pulling Miss Garrity's hair and then smashing a bottle on the floor in anger.
'Everything was an accident,' she told the judge. 'I didn't want to hurt her — she is my best friend.'
Cole insists Miss Garrity was injured when the glass shattered, causing a shard to ricochet into her neck.
But a young British woman, who was working as a 'shot girl' outside the establishment, saw things rather differently — at least in one crucial respect.
A social media picture shows Cole (centre) during her passing out parade
'They [Cole and Ferguson] were stood in the street arguing,' she told us. 'They were very drunk and shouting at each other.
'The blonde [Cole] just flipped and threw a bottle she was holding at the other friend [Miss Garrity]. It hit her straight in the neck and smashed. Blood was spurting everywhere. She [Miss Garrity] collapsed on the floor in the terrace outside the club.
'A crowd of about 20 people gathered around. They were screaming for help, but no one knew what to do. People were taking their T-shirts off and wrapping them around her neck to try to stem the bleeding, but it just wouldn't stop.
'The police arrived quite quickly [at around 1am], but it took about ten minutes for the ambulance to arrive.
When the paramedics did get here, they tried to stop the bleeding for a further ten minutes as she lay on the ground before taking her to hospital.'
By all account, Miss Garrity is lucky to be alive. The glass narrowly avoided severing her jugular vein. She needed 14 stitches in her neck. She has told relatives that her 'life flashed before her' and, in a Facebook post from her hospital bed, declared: 'I'm alive and that's all that matters', alongside a smiling emoji.
Sydney Cole was arrested outside Bananas and held for more than 48 hours in a prison on the outskirts of Palma on suspicion of 'wounding with a dangerous weapon' — a bottle, not a glass, according our inquiries.
At 8.10pm (local time) on Wednesday, she emerged from behind the walls in dark sunglasses, her face covered with a grey hooded tracksuit.
Thuggish behaviour, it turns out, runs in the family.
Waiting for Cole outside the jail were two middle-aged men with tattoos, believed to be relatives, who threatened and intimidated visitors into opening their bags to prove they were not photographers planning to snap Cole, leaving them visibly shaken.
When Cole did appear at the gates, they whisked her into a waiting silver Ford, parked almost in the entrance itself, with the engine running and the doors open, before speeding off like a getaway car in a crime film.
No conditions have been placed on Cole's release and she has not had to post bail. But she is believed to have been told she must make herself available to the judge in future, if required.
Unlike Cole, a string of women squaddies have been convicted for alcohol-fuelled misdemeanours in the past few years, including Trooper Corrie-Alice Holmes (for sexually assaulting a male colleague after a drunken night out) and Lance Corporal Rachel Dorrian (who floored a man and woman with a single punch after being ejected from a nightclub).
Back home, one picture of Sydney Cole in a thigh-skimming little black party dress prompted a male admirer's comment: 'You don't look like an army girl x.'
For more than 14 drunken hours in Magaluf, culminating in the bloody fracas at the Bananas night club, she didn't behave like one, either.
Or maybe she did — which is perhaps the most troubling aspect of this story.
Via Daily Mail
My view: Some young women join because they can't get a job in the outside world. She clearly behaved like a thug She must have been through stockpile of anger, for her to have attacked her friend in such a brutal manner. She's the type of reveler you really want to avoid - the angry drinker. They both need counseling.
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