Inquest questions Army equipment

A coroner has questioned the equipment, training and mine detection drills in the run up to the death of a soldier from Brighton and three of his comrades in Afghanistan, at an inquest.

Corporal Sean Robert Reeve, 28, from Patcham, of the Royal Signals died alongside Territorial Army special forces soldiers Corporal Sarah Bryant, 26, of the Intelligence Corps, Lance Corporal Richard Larkin, 39, and Private Paul Stout, 31.

Speaking at today's verdict Coroner David Masters recorded unlawful killing verdicts and told the inquest training of the troops was inadequate. The groups Snatch Land Rover was hit by a roadside bomb in June 2008.

Coroner David Masters also highlighted equipment shortages and pledged to raise his concerns with the Ministry of Defence.

The six-day inquest into the deaths, held at Trowbridge Town Hall in Wiltshire heard a string of criticisms of their equipment and training.

The coroner heard evidence that soldiers had not been shown how to use metal detectors in the UK due to an equipment shortage.

Troops were forced to hunt out an expert on base in Afghanistan who passed on his knowledge.

An Ebex metal detector became available only four months into the deployment,until which point the soldiers had to scan the ground for improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Summing up today, Mr Masters also highlighted the limitations of Snatch Land Rovers.

The inquest heard that the commander of the four soldiers had requested a replacement for their Snatch Land Rover but was refused due to equipment shortages.

The vehicles could not cover soft ground and became stuck in a little water,which restricted the unit to driving along dangerous tracks.

Giving his verdict, Mr Masters said today: ``I intend to submit a report to the Ministry of Defence which will take up a number of these issues which this inquest has quite properly canvassed.''

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