There is “no significant evidence” that a vehicle carrying a Fylde coast soldier killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan failed to provide the “expected level of protection”, a coroner has ruled.
Fusilier Samuel Flint-Broughton, from Poulton, and two of his comrades died when an improvised explosive device (IED) tore through their heavily armoured Mastiff vehicle on April 30 last year.
Corporal William Savage, 30, from Penicuik, Midlothian, Fusilier Flint-Broughton, 21, and Private Robert Hetherington, 25, from Edinburgh, died in the blast in the Nahr-e-Saraj district.
Their inquest at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court in Oxford heard the IED was buried under the road. It had been placed there by tunnelling and was triggered by a command wire, probably from behind the 10ft wall of a nearby compound.
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. In recording a conclusion that the soldiers were unlawfully killed on active service yesterday, senior coroner Darren Salter said: “Taking the evidence together, including the history of Mastiff vehicles in countless previous IED strikes, there is no significant evidence it did not provide the expected level of protection or that the occupants were made more vulnerable to the injuries they sustained because of the 2009 IED damage.”
Mr Salter also noted that experts referred to the size of the explosion as a “blast overmatch” and that the men were seated in the rear of the vehicle, which was nearest to the explosion.
During the inquest, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Swift, who was leading a battle group which included the men’s unit, B Company, 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland, explained that there had been frequent ‘’hits’’ in the days before the attack on a surveillance system designed to counter the IED threat.
“We were not expecting to see evidence of tunnelling. Assets did not identify anything suspicious,” he said.
“We were looking for ground sign, perhaps an area of disturbed earth, and no ground sign was identified by any of these assets.”
The coroner said he will produce a Prevention of Future Deaths report on the identification and clearance of IED threats.
Fusilier Flint-Broughton joined the Army in November 2011 and was on his first overseas deployment.
After Fusilier Flint-Broughton’s body was repatriated to the UK, hundreds of people lined the streets of Poulton to see his funeral cortege make its way to St Chad’s Church.
His name was later inscribed on the town’s war memorial.