Cambridgeshire

New armour 'would not have saved soldier's life'

An inquest into the death of a soldier from Cambridgeshire has heard body armour he was waiting for would not have saved him.

Rifleman Andrew Fentiman, 23, of 7th Battalion The Rifles, from the Territorial Army, died on 15 November.

He was shot in Afghanistan, the hearing in Huntington was told.

Alan Hepper, principal engineer for the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, said the new armour would have made "no difference".

Bullet 'entered shoulder'

Two weeks before his death Rifleman Fentiman had written on a blog he was "still waiting" for new body armour.

He was equipped with Osprey body armour and a Mark 7 helmet, but was awaiting new Osprey Assault body armour.

A bullet entered his left shoulder, missing his body armour by 1cm, exiting under his right armpit, the inquest was told.

Mr Hepper said the Osprey Assault body armour did not differ in protection but in its coverings and distribution of weight.

South and West Cambridgeshire coroner David Morris asked him: "Given the entry and exit wounds, wearing that would not have made any difference?"

He replied: "No, it would have been exactly the same.

"The entry would still have been outside the left shoulder and the exit wound have been just above the right area underneath the armpit."

The inquest was told Rifleman Fentiman had volunteered to serve with the Territorials in a bid to gain experience as a step towards his goal of winning a commission as an officer in the regular Army.

After the inquest his mother, Lynda Fentiman, said: "Although devastated by his loss, we are immensely proud of our beloved son Andrew.

"As a TA soldier, he volunteered to take his tour early, as he strongly believed that he should serve as a rifleman before going on to continue his training as an officer.

"We are confident no practical body armour would have provided him with any more protection, thus preventing his death, which was mercifully probably instantaneous."

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