Coroner in army truck safety probe

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Published: Monday 1st December 2014 by The News Editor

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A coroner has said he will examine the protection given by a Mastiff military vehicle blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) in Afghanistan.

Three soldiers were killed in the blast on Route 611 in the Nahr-e-Saraj district on April 30 last year.

Darren Salter, senior coroner for Oxfordshire, said at the start of their inquest that he would consider issues such as the protection afforded by the Mastiff if subject to such an attack, whether there were any defects in the vehicle, whether it was possible to detect the devices beforehand, and what intelligence was available to the patrol.

Corporal William Savage, 30, from Penicuik, Midlothian; Fusilier Samuel Flint, 21, from Edinburgh; and Private Robert Hetherington, 25 , from Edinburgh, died of blast injuries caused by an explosion, Mr Salter said.

Post-mortem examinations concluded that the three, who were with B Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, would have been deeply unconscious virtually instantly and unaware of what had happened.

Mr Salter said the Mastiff is designed to resist IED attacks.

There had been earlier damage to this one, the second of three evolutions of the vehicle, in a strike in 2009.

The Royal Military Police made inquiries to the Afghan National Police about this incident, but no one was arrested over it.

The Mastiff, a protective patrol vehicle, had been from Forward Operating Base Ouellette to another base at Lashkar Gah Durai and was on its way back again when the attack happened.

There were four vehicles in the patrol.

The driver of the Mastiff, Fusilier Paul Howell, said in a statement that the regular locks to the rear doors had been faulty, and he had reported them twice.

He told the inquest that on the day in question, though they were stiff, they were fully sealed when closed.

Extra battle locks were not deployed, but they were not supposed to be when the vehicle was in open desert, only when there were potential public order situations, he said.

He said in his statement that there were 20 ammunition tins under the seats in the rear, which was normal.

Published: Monday 1st December 2014 by The News Editor

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