Cpl Sarah Bryant (the first UK female soldier killed in Afghanistan) and L/Cpl Richard Larkin, Cpl Sean Reeve and Pte Paul Stout (reservist members of a specialist unit) died when their Snatch Land Rover struck an improvised explosive device while they were deployed on a police mentoring operation in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in June 2008.
Oliver Sanders acted for the MOD, the armed forces and the service witnesses (including various personnel who gave evidence anonymously and from behind screens) at the inquest this March before Mr David Masters, HM Assistant Deputy Coroner for Wiltshire & Swindon. The inquest proceeded as an Article 2 “Middleton-type” investigation and it sat for just over a week, hearing evidence relating to the incident, the capabilities of various vehicles and the provision of equipment and training for mine detection drills in 2008 and now. The multiple commander and fifth member of the call-sign crew survived the blast and gave evidence under the cipher “Soldier E”.
The Coroner returned narrative verdicts, with short-form conclusions of “unlawful killing”, and his summing up identified equipment and training “inadequacies” which did not cause or contribute to the deaths but which will be the subject of a report under rule 43 of the Coroners Rules.