Olaf Schmid 'rushed' on day of fatal Afghanistan blast

image captionStaff Sgt Olaf Schmid made safe 64 bombs during a five-month tour of duty

A bomb disposal expert appeared "under pressure" and "rushed" on the day he died in a bomb blast in Afghanistan in November 2009, an inquest has heard.

Staff Sgt Olaf Schmid, 30, from Truro in Cornwall, died disarming a bomb - the 65th device on his tour of duty.

The inquest heard it had been the last day of his five-month tour and his stepson had phoned the previous day saying it was "time to come home".

Colleagues told the hearing pressure on the 30-year-old was "self-imposed".

Cpl Thomas Stace told the hearing that the "inspirational leader" appeared "somewhat impatient" as he defused explosives on the day of his death.

Staff Sgt Schmid made a comment to a colleague about speeding up, said Cpl Stace.

However, in written evidence he told the inquest the pressure was not imposed by army chiefs.

'Pulled wire'

"I think he was under pressure to deal with them all and that it was a self-imposed pressure," he said.

Sapper Craig Butterworth, who witnessed the fatal explosion, described Staff Sgt Schmid as a "total inspiration" but said he had also noticed signs of stress.

The roadside bomb which killed the disposal expert instantly was the fourth device he had tackled that day, the inquest was told.

Colleagues said he pulled a command wire from the ground by hand when dealing with one device and turned round to them saying "you didn't see me do that, did you?".

This was "very unusual" they said, but they trusted him completely because of his professionalism and experience.

Sapper Butterworth added: "On that day it occurred to me that he was slightly rushed.

"I could only think that this was because it was his last day before going home for rest and recuperation."

'Come home' plea

L/Cpl Gary Parsons told the inquest about a telephone conversation between Staff Sgt Schmid and his five-year-old stepson, Laird.

During it Laird had said: "Daddy, it's time to come home".

The inquest also heard evidence from pathologist Nicholas Hunt that Staff Sgt Schmid had fainted while on duty on 14 September - two months before he was killed - but described him as being in good health.

The soldier, who had made his home in Winchester, Hampshire, was known to comrades as Oz and had been part of 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, based in Didcot, Oxfordshire.

He was awarded a posthumous George Cross, which his widow Christina accepted in a ceremony last June.

The inquest at Truro Coroner's Court is expected to last two days.

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