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Accused admits bomb prints link

Published 29/04/2015

Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson was killed when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a blast in Iraq (US Army)
Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson was killed when the armoured vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a blast in Iraq (US Army)

A Briton accused of making a bomb that killed a US soldier in Iraq has admitted that fingerprints found on IEDs linked to the case are his.

Anis Abid Sardar, 38, of Wembley, north west London, is accused of making bombs in Syria which were planted on the road west out of Baghdad in 2007.

One of them is said to have caused the death of 34-year-old Sergeant First Class Randy Johnson, of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, when it hit the armoured vehicle he was travelling in on September 27 2007.

During the opening of Sardar's trial yesterday, the jury of seven women and five men heard that his prints were found on two of four devices linked to the case, but that he denied any involvement in bomb-making.

But his lawyer, Henry Blaxland QC, told them today: "Can I just make it clear, Mr Sardar accepts the finger marks attributed to him ... are his."

Sardar's fingerprints were not found on the device that killed Sgt Johnson, but the prosecution say that he was part of the team that built it.

The court heard that Sgt Johnson told his comrades "Don't let me die here" after he was fatally injured by the bomb on the road between the Iraqi capital and Abu Ghraib prison.

Specialist Elroy Brooks, one of the five US personnel on board the Stryker eight-wheel armoured vehicle role, told the court he was blown about 50ft (15m) outside the vehicle.

When he went back, he saw that the interior was covered in battery acid and dust, and that Sgt Johnson was seriously wounded.

He said: "The IED had gone off directly under him so when I lifted him it was like there was only half of him left.

"His torso was ripped and his left leg was pretty much just attached by the skin and the rest had been blown off. His eyes were filled with dirt and he had holes all over the place."

Describing the soldier's last moments, he added: "Sgt Johnson was unconscious. We all thought he was dead.

"He then came to and freaked out. He said 'Don't let me die here' - that was all he said. He then passed out. I think he died then."

The blast also left Mark Aggers, who was serving as a gunner on the Stryker, with serious shrapnel wounds.

Specialist Brooks and another two men in the vehicle - Staff Sergeant Joshua Lord and driver Private Luke Stinson - suffered concussion and the explosion left a hole in the vehicle of about a foot and half in diameter while one of its wheels was blown 100ft (30m) down the road.

Sgt Lord, who was serving as a specialist medic, said the team been deployed as part of a three-vehicle convoy to patrol roads around Baghdad.

Giving evidence in full uniform, Sgt Lord - known to his comrades as Doc - said he was knocked unconscious by the explosion.

He said: "Initially I wasn't exactly sure what had happened. I heard a loud bang, like metal on metal.

"I initially didn't have any clue what had happened, I didn't know if we had hit something."

The soldier said that when he came to and looked out of the vehicle he could see a "long strip covered in packing tape", which Pte Brooks told him was an IED.

He realised that Sgt Johnson had suffered severe blast injuries to both legs, hips, abdomen and groin and he went about attending to him.

Sgt Lord said that although his medical kit contained morphine for pain relief he did not use it because he was "concerned about the amount of blood Sgt Johnson had lost".

Prosecutor Max Hill QC asked the soldier: "He said words to the effect of 'Make me comfortable'?"

"Yes, sir, those were the last words that he said," Sgt Lord replied.

An Apache helicopter arrived 45 minutes later but Sgt Johnson had already died, the court heard.

Answering questions from Mr Blaxland, Sgt Lord said the area where the team were deployed had not been patrolled for some while.

Giving evidence in court wearing uniform, Mr Aggers, who is now a staff sergeant, said the area the platoon was in had not been patrolled "consistently".

Acting as vehicle commander at the time, he said it was his task to take care of the vehicle's anti-tank guided missile and M240 machine gun.

He was positioned with his head outside a hatch alongside Sgt Johnson conducting a "route presence" on the road to provide security to the area when the bomb exploded

Staff Sgt Aggers said a tourniquet was applied to a wound in his left leg and a bandage to his left shoulder.

After he woke up from surgery he was told that Sgt Johnson had died from his wounds.

The trial was adjourned until Friday at 10am.

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