Sussex

British soldier L/Cpl James Brynin 'not unlawfully killed'

Lance Corporal James Brynin Image copyright MoD
Image caption L/Cpl James Brynin served with the 14th Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare)

A British soldier killed in a "friendly fire" shooting in Afghanistan was not unlawfully killed, a coroner has concluded.

L/Cpl James Brynin, 22, from West Sussex, died in 2013 while carrying out intelligence work on the Taliban.

After coming under enemy attack, L/Cpl of Horse Mark Kelly fired in the wrong direction and shot him.

On Monday, the inquest was told he would not face prosecution over the death.

An inquest last year was adjourned over concerns it may have been a homicide.

Coroner Penelope Schofield told the resumed inquest L/CoH Kelly had not taken "sufficient care" and was "disorientated" when he fired.

She described how he "fired in rapid succession" while resting his gun on the helmet of another soldier.

After the inquest, L/Cpl Brynin's father Efrem Brynin said of L/CoH Kelly: "His errors led directly to our son's death. He has, and will forever have, James's blood on his hands."

'Great loss'

L/Cpl Brynin was part of a troop carrying out intelligence work in the Kakaran area, north east of Lashkar Gah, when he was shot on 15 October, 2013.

Ms Schofield told the hearing L/CoH Kelly believed he was firing at an insurgent. She said he accepted it was a "massive mistake" but felt there was an imminent threat to life.

Lawyer Thomas Coke-Smyth, for L/Cpl Brynin's family, said there was evidence the risk he took was "unreasonable".

But Nicholas Moss, representing the Ministry of Defence (MOD), said there was insufficient evidence to conclude the death was an unlawful killing.

He said it was a "stressful situation" that called for self-defence.

'Lack of empathy'

Lt Col Edward Hayward, commanding officer of the Household Cavalry Regiment, told the inquest L/CoH Kelly had since undergone additional training.

Recording a narrative verdict, Ms Schofield said she would write a "letter of concern" to the MoD on how it managed the Brynin family.

They only found out L/Cpl Brynin was killed by friendly fire three months after his death, the inquest heard.

Ms Schofield said there appeared to have been a "complete lack of empathy" and the family was "let down".

Mr Brynin said: "It seems incredible to us that we should have to speak out for our dead son whilst the MoD has sought to excuse itself of any wrongdoing."

In a statement, an MOD spokesperson said its thoughts were with L/Cpl Brynin's family and friends.

It added: "His death was a great loss to them and... a great loss to the Army as well."

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