Inquest On Death Of Former Dorset Reporter

1 April 2011, 12:43

An inquest has decided nothing could have been done to prevent the death of a former Bournemouth journalist in Afghanistan.

Rupert Hamer, 39, the defence correspondent for the Sunday Mirror, died on January 9, 2010 while on a patrol with US marines and Afghan soldiers north-west of Nawa. Mr Hamer, from London, was the first British journalist to be killed in Afghanistan.

The blast also killed a US marine and seriously injured photographer Philip Coburn, who was accompanying Mr Hamer on his assignment.

At the time, Prime Minister Gordon Brown led the tributes to Mr Hamer, who was married with three young children, praising his "courage, skill and dedication''.

Sunday Mirror editor Tina Weaver said he was a "seasoned, highly regarded and brave journalist'' who had earned the nickname Corporal Hamer from fellow staff on the paper.

"He was a fine, fearless, and skilled writer who joined the paper 12 years ago," she said at the time.

"Affectionately known as Corporal Hamer in the office, he was a gregarious figure, a wonderful friend who was hugely popular with his colleagues.

"Above all he was devoted to his wife Helen and their three young children."

Mr Hamer and Mr Coburn were embedded reporters with the US Marine Corps when they were caught in the explosion. They were accompanying a patrol when their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.

The experienced pair flew to the region on New Year's Eve 2009 for a trip scheduled to last a month.

Mr Hamer wanted to be embedded with the US marines at the start of their surge into southern Afghanistan.

Mr Hamer was married with three children. A keen fly-fisherman he was born and raised in East Anglia, working for the Eastern Daily Press and the Bournemouth Evening Echo before joining the Sunday Mirror in 1997. He became the paper's defence correspondent in 2004.

The coroner has recorded a verdict of unlawful killing, saying no amount of training would have changed the outcome.