Kent soldier unlawfully killed in Afghanistan explosion

Rifleman Daniel Holkham
Image caption Rifleman Daniel Holkham and his two brothers were all in the same battalion

A 19-year-old soldier from Kent who died when a suicide bomber detonated a device in Afghanistan was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

Rifleman Daniel Holkham from the Isle of Sheppey, who was with 3rd Battalion The Rifles, died in the explosion near the Sangin bazaar in March.

He was serving alongside his two brothers and was weeks away from the end of his six-month tour when he died.

The inquest was held at County Hall, Maidstone.

L/Cpl Ryan Le Masurier told the inquest a car moved towards their patrol and swiftly picked up speed.

He said one of the soldiers raised his weapon and the insurgent then detonated the blast.

'Generic threat'

Pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt said Rifleman Holkham suffered extensive injuries, particularly to his head and neck, and recorded the cause of death as blast injuries caused by an explosion.

He said protective gear worn by Rifleman Holkham would not have saved him.

The inquest heard there was a "generic threat" of suicide bombers in the area at the time, but nothing more specific.

Mid Kent and Medway Coroner Roger Sykes recorded a verdict of unlawful killing while on active service.

He told Rifleman Holkham's parents, Rodney and Tracy, that coroners were deeply aware of the risks faced by people in the service of their country.

'Bright and dedicated'

He said: "I'm quite sure that you will have a great deal of pride in the service that your son provided his country."

Rifleman Holkham's parents and brothers Matthew, 20, and Andrew, 18, did not comment after the hearing.

Outside County Hall, Capt Daniel Brown said: "Rifleman Holkham was a model rifleman and was robust, bright and dedicated.

"He had ample opportunity to show that he was both capable, had potential in abundance and carried out his tasks diligently, willingly and with plenty of professional pride.

"His jovial character, coupled with his cheeky streak, marked him out as one of the characters of the platoon with a bright future ahead.

"He was the kind of person that every soldier would have wanted by their side."

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