The sniper who shot dead an Eastbourne soldier in a ‘friendly fire’ incident in Afghanistan had not been trained to fire his weapon at night.
Lance Corporal Michael Pritchard, a military policeman attached to the 4th Battalion The Rifles, died after being shot in Sangin in 2009.
And an inquest into his death, which began last week, heard that the fatal shot had been fired by Lance Corporal Malcolm Graham, of The Royal Scots Borderers, who mistook the soldier for an insurgent.
LCpl Pritchard was shot just after 9pm on December 20 – at a time when visibility was poor due to a lack of moonlight. This meant servicemen in the area had to use thermal imaging equipment which, the inquest heard, sometimes made it hard to establish the depth of what a soldier was looking at.
And, the hearing was also told by LCpl Graham that all his sniper training had been done during daylight hours and that he had never used a thermal imaging sight at night. LCpl Graham was sent to a remote observation post after being told insurgents had been spotted digging improvised explosive devices (IEDs) into the road. He said he had ‘been brought in for accurate fire’, and was convinced what turned out to be LCpl Pritchard was an enemy planting bombs.
It also emerged that it was not unusual for snipers to receive no specific night training.
The inquest continues.