Page last updated at 10:51 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 11:51 UK

Servicemen's inquest to be halted

Hercules C130k
The inquest will resume later this year

An inquest into 10 military personnel who died when their Hercules plane was shot down in Iraq is to be adjourned, the coroner has said.

Wiltshire coroner David Masters said it was not possible to hear from all the witnesses in the allotted three weeks.

The hearing at Trowbridge will end on Friday and resume in October when another three weeks has been set aside.

The crash in January 2005 was the single largest loss of British life in Iraq since military action began.

Those killed included eight men from RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire, another RAF serviceman and one soldier.

Although this is regrettable, we are resigned to it
Sarah Chapman, Sgt O'Connor's sister

The Lyneham crew members were Flt Lt David Stead, 35, Flt Lt Andrew Smith, 25, Flt Lt Paul Pardoel, 35, Master Engineer Gary Nicholson, 42, Chief Technician Richard Brown, 40, Flt Sgt Mark Gibson, 34, and Sgt Robert O'Connor, 38.

Cpl David Williams, 37, was also from Lyneham and also on board as a passenger.

The ninth RAF man on board, Sqn Ldr Patrick Marshall, 39, was from Strike Command Headquarters, at RAF High Wycombe.

Acting L/Cpl Steven Jones, 25, from Fareham, Hampshire, was a soldier serving with the Royal Signals and a crew member on the Hercules.

The coroner told the inquest the adjournment was "a source of regret to us all" but said the decision had unanimous approval from counsel and interested parties.

Outside the court, Sarah Chapman, sister of Sgt O'Connor, said: "Although this is regrettable, we are resigned to it.

"We have waited three years for this inquest and it is not just a formality. We want it to be carried out properly."

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