Leeds & West Yorkshire

Soldiers' Afghanistan blast deaths 'unlawful'

Image caption The men were walking across an area of land known as "ANA field"

Two British soldiers who died in separate explosions moments apart while on foot patrol in Afghanistan were killed unlawfully, an inquest found.

Corporal Liam Riley, 21, died while trying to recover the body of Lance Corporal Graham Shaw, 27, in Helmand Province on 1 February.

The pair were on foot patrol with 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment when the explosions happened.

Coroner David Riley recorded the verdicts in Trowbridge, Wiltshire.

After Cpl Riley's death, Prince Harry paid tribute to his friend, with whom he served at a military training unit in Canada in 2007. The prince described him as a "legend".

The inquest at Wiltshire Coroner's Court on Friday heard Cpl Riley, of Killamarsh, in Derbyshire, and L/Cpl Shaw, of Huddersfield, were killed by two home-made bombs in the Babaji District.

Major Charles Foinette, with 1 Coldstream Guards, told the inquest sitting at Trowbridge Town Hall the soldiers were on a "ground domination and assurance" patrol around checkpoint Kingshill on 1 February.

The men were walking across an area of land known as "ANA field" when they stood on two separate improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Sgt Adrian Dixon, with 3 Yorks, was leading the patrol that day.

He told the inquest: "I noticed children playing in the nearby field had disappeared. I turned around and then heard the first explosion followed by heavy gunfire.

"Everyone hit the floor and started returning fire. I started shouting 'is everyone OK?"'

Sgt Dixon was told there was a man down - L/Cpl Shaw - who was suspected to be dead.

He went on: "That's when Liam came round the wall. He was told to stop and not take another step. There was a lot of gunfire, it was very confusing."

Image caption Prince Harry said it was a "privilege" to have served with Cpl Riley

He said Cpl Riley came around the wall and then he saw the ground erupt.

Cpl Riley was airlifted from the scene by helicopter but was confirmed dead at Camp Bastion field hospital later that day.

L/Cpl Shaw was confirmed dead at the scene, the inquest heard. His body was brought back to Patrol Base 1 while the group waited for a second flight.

Dr Nicholas Hunt, Home Office pathologist, gave cause of the death for both soldiers as blast injuries caused by an explosion.

The MoD revealed after the men's deaths that Cpl Riley was among a team who had been trying to reach the body of L/Cpl Shaw when the second blast happened.

Prince Harry, who spent 10 weeks on the frontline in Afghanistan before being flown home in February 2008, paid tribute to the men following their deaths.

He said: "It is incredibly sad also to hear that Liam died alongside his friend, L/Cpl Graham Shaw. My heart goes out to their loved ones, and to their many, many friends in their regiment and the wider Army."

Both men were hailed as heroes by relatives and comrades.

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