Belfast Telegraph

Soldier killed in base 'accident'

A soldier killed his best friend in a "tragic accident" in Afghanistan while checking his weapon, an inquest has heard.

Ranger David Dalzell, 20, of 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment, died from a single shot to the chest while erecting a commemorative flag pole for a colleague who had been killed by an improvised explosive device.

Ranger Dalzell, from Bangor in County Down, and his comrades had returned just 20 minutes earlier from a patrol in the Nad-e-Ali district of Helmand and were relaxing at Check Point Ranger when the incident happened at 11.20am on February 4, 2011.

Ranger Sean Barry had stripped and cleaned his SA-80 rifle in an attempt to stop the safety catch and magazine sticking but failed to notice the magazine was still attached as he carried out a functioning test and a shot was fired, killing his friend instantly.

Speaking after the inquest, held at Trowbridge Coroner's Court in Wiltshire, Ranger Dalzell's father Gordon said it had been a "tragic accident".

Wiltshire coroner David Ridley recorded a narrative verdict.

The inquest heard Ranger Barry was in a state of shock and screamed "I've killed him, I've killed him" immediately after the shot was fired.

Ranger Barry, who went through basic training at Catterick and joined The Royal Irish Regiment alongside Ranger Dalzell, had noticed the problem with his rifle following the morning patrol.

To clean the weapon he sat at the end of a bench at the front end of an accommodation tent facing outwards towards where Ranger Dalzell was helping to put up the flag pole.

Ranger Barry pleaded guilty at a court martial to a charge of negligently performing a duty while handling a service rifle causing the unintended discharge of a round. He sentenced to six months detention suspended for a year.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph