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    British soldier deaths 'unlawful'

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    ODN

    by ODN

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    A commanding officer killed in Afghanistan insisted on travelling in an exposed position in the lead vehicle of a routine patrol to inspire his men, an inquest has heard.


    Lt Col Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior British Army officer to be killed since the Falklands War, suffered fatal injuries when his Viking armoured vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device.


    Trooper Joshua Hammond, 18, of 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, from Plymouth, also died in the explosion on July 1 last year, near Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan.


    A coroner recorded a verdict of unlawful killing for both soldiers at an inquest at Wiltshire Coroner's Court, sitting at Trowbridge Town Hall.


    Corporal Kevin Williams, of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, survived the blast - caused by a 20kg homemade bomb - in the lead Viking, and was the first to attend to Lt Col Thorneloe.


    He told the inquest that on the day of the incident, Lt Col Thorneloe chose to take "top cover" position in the rear of the Viking, despite the role being handed to another soldier.


    Major Andrew Speed, Lt Col Thorneloe's second-in-command at the time of the incident, told the inquest: "Like all good leaders, Col Rupert wanted to get on the ground. Any good leader wants to get a good feel for what his troops were doing. He was a hands-on guy."