‘The Army did all it could to protect my son’

Elaine Freeman (below), mother of Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33 of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
Elaine Freeman (below), mother of Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33 of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.
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The mother of a Fylde coast soldier killed in Afghanistan today said she “wholeheartedly” agrees with a coroner’s verdict that he was unlawfully killed – and believes the Army did all it could to protect him.

Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, from St Annes, was killed along with five other soldiers when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated under their Warrior vehicle in Helmand Province on March 6 last year.

Elaine Freeman, mother of Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33 (above) of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

Elaine Freeman, mother of Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33 (above) of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment.

A coroner ruled last week father-of-two Sgt Coupe was “unlawfully killed”. The inquest at Oxford Coroner’s Court heard improvements had since been made to the Warrior vehicles following the tragedy.

But Elaine Freeman, Sgt Coupe’s mother, who now lives in Essex, said the Army did all it could to protect the soldiers

“The Warrior is the safest vehicle out there,” she said.

“Our Nigel swore by the Warrior but no vehicle is 100 per cent safe. The Army do their best to protect soldiers and when something is happening out there they have to go (to war).

“Everything that could have been possibly done was done and I’m happy the modifications have been made for the lads out there.

“I wholeheartedly agree with what the coroner said and so does his wife.”

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter said improvements had been made to the vehicles since last March including thicker armour, a burst resistance fuel tank, improvements to ways of getting out in an emergency and better firefighting and detection systems.

Mrs Freeman added: “I truly believe that if anyone in the Army had known something like this could happen they would’ve done something.

“They did everything they could to protect soldiers out there and Nigel had every faith in the Warrior before he went out there. They all knew the capability of the Warrior and everybody in Afghanistan knows that nothing is ever 100 per cent.

“With the Warrior you have to make compensations with armour for manoeuvrability otherwise it wouldn’t have been the fighting machine that it was.

Mrs Freeman, who continues to raise funds for charities in her son’s name, added: “Hopefully we can put the inquest behind us and I can look forward to a lovely future with my granddaughters.”

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