Soldier inquest verdict: Pritchard death was avoidable

The coroner looking into the death of an Eastbourne soldier shot by a British sniper in Afghanistan recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Lance Corporal Michael Pritchard was shot while standing on the roof of an observation post in Sangin when he was hit by a bullet fired over a restricted fire line.

The inquest heard he had been wrongly targeted after being mistaken for an insurgent.

Coroner Alan Craze said, “This was fundamentally an accident, albeit an avoidable one.”

Speaking on the steps of Eastbourne Town Hall, LCpl Pritchard’s mother, Helen Perry, said, “Michael was a much loved and adored son, step son, brother, grandson and best friend: loving his army life and his family and wonderful friends and he was the epitome of a first class Royal Military Police Officer.

“Michael was an honourable and honest young man and he stood firmly by what was right but would never bear a grudge. “Therefore I think it only fitting that we have finally heard evidence from those responsible for his death. Michael deserves nothing less. My precious sons life and very promising career cut tragically and cruelly short in the most unexpected of circumstances.

“During the course of this inquest we have heard that a series of errors relating to Command & Control, Communication and Identification resulted in Michael’s death.

“When most information and the best information available would have made Michael’s death avoidable. Speculation and assumption caused an initial incorrect identification of British soldiers as insurgents and nobody in command took any action to rectify the situation and subsequently nobody has taken any responsibility for Michael’s death.

“We recognise that a number of people were involved in this incident but there was an onus on those higher in the chain of command to take control, rectify the situation and save Michael’s life. After reading all the evidence and sitting through the inquest we remain convinced that the consequences of all of the above were tragically all too predictable.

“Michael sadly no longer has a voice and so it is up to us, his family, to ensure that he has one and to do all we can to avoid a similar repetition of such an event.

“The grief we feel at the loss of our beautiful boy is all too much to bear and we hope that this shocking chain of events never happens to another soldier, another family. Michael is missed so very much and will be carry him forever in our hearts.”