18 December, 2006

Sergeant Steven Roberts.

The inquest into the death of Sergeant Steven Roberts in Iraq during 2003 has ended with the coroner returning what is called a "narrative verdict". My lay understanding is that it means the coroner produces "...a short, factual statement setting out the circumstances of the death if this more fairly and accurately reflects how the deceased came to his or her death" than the other options available.

Bluntly, the finding is that Sgt. Roberts died because he was amongst the unluckiest of the 2,000 troops who went into Iraq without the best available armoured protection because of shortages of a £167 worth piece of kit. The Times quotes the coroner, Andrew Walker:

"To send soldiers into a combat zone without the appropriate basic equipment is, in my view, unforgivable and inexcusable and represents a breach of trust that the soldiers have in those in Government," he said, recording a narrative verdict in the death of Roberts.

"This Enhanced Combat Body Armour was a basic piece of protective equipment. I have heard justification and excuse and I put these to one side as I remind myself that Sergeant Roberts lost his life because he did not have that basic piece of equipment.

"Sergeant Roberts’s death was as a result of delay and serious failures in the acquisition and support chain that resulted in a significant shortage within his fighting unit of enhanced combat body armour, none being available for him to wear."
Other reports from the BBC and the Daily Telegraph.

I will update this post with the formal inquest verdict if it becomes available.

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