Coroner weeps at soldier’s inquest

Published: Thursday 27th November 2014 by The News Editor

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A coroner broke down in tears at the inquest of a special forces soldier who he said “died with a rifle in his hand doing a job that he loved and protecting freedom”.

Captain Richard Holloway, 29, was killed during a daring night-time raid on a Taliban stronghold outside Kabul, Afghanistan, on December 23 last year.

An enemy fighter, hiding in boulders up to 100ft high, sprayed a magazine from his Kalashnikov and hit the Special Boat Service (SBS) soldier in the thigh and pelvis.

His commanding officer, who was referred to during the inquest in Crook, County Durham, as Officer C and who gave evidence from behind a screen, carried him off the mountain side as bullets continued to fly, but said he knew he was already dead.

The coroner for Durham, Andrew Tweddle, wept as he spoke to Captain Holloway’s parents Neil and Jaquie, and related their loss to that of his own.

His own son Aidan died aged 21 in a car crash in 2007.

Officer C had told the inquest: “Rich died with a rifle in his hand, he died doing the job that he absolutely loved and he died protecting the freedoms the Afghan people enjoyed, like the people in the UK.”

At the conclusion of the inquest, Mr Tweddle’s emotions broke through as he repeated those words.

He said: “He died with a rifle in his hand, doing a job he loved and protecting freedom. I have difficulty saying this.

“My son died some years ago in a car crash. If someone had said to me what that officer had said, I would feel very proud.”

Mr Tweddle concluded that Capt Holloway, who was a Royal Engineer prior to joining the Special Forces, died from gunshot wounds sustained while on active operational duty in Afghanistan.

Capt Holloway’s family, from Hamsterley, County Durham, were also in tears at the conclusion of the hearing.

At the start of the inquest Mr Tweddle said the Ministry of Defence had made an application to him for Officer C’s evidence to be made from behind a screen so he could not be identified, having regard to “the operational effectiveness of the UK Special Forces”.

It has been previously reported that Capt Holloway was a member of the SBS.

Published: Thursday 27th November 2014 by The News Editor

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