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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 08:26 GMT
Killed soldier taped kit concerns
Sergeant Steven Roberts
Sergeant Steven Roberts was shot in the chest during a riot in Basra
A British soldier killed in Iraq after being told to hand back his body armour had taped his fears about the lack of equipment, his widow has revealed.

Samantha Roberts, 32, of Shipley, West Yorkshire, said the recording showed how concerned he was about the quality of issued equipment.

On the tape, Sergeant Steven Roberts, originally from Wadebridge, Cornwall, describes the situation as a "joke".

He was shot dead by Iraqis as he tried to control a riot in Basra on 24 March.

Emotional recording

A Ministry of Defence report revealed that Sergeant Roberts, 33, was issued with body armour but told to hand back the ceramic plates because a tank regiment was under equipped.

Mrs Roberts only found out about the tape on the day of her husband's military funeral in Harrogate.

She said: "It (the tape) was very emotional. There was quite a lot of emotion in his voice.

"He had left me a tape with my father-in-law, before he left for Iraq, in the event that anything happened to him. But I had not heard his voice since he'd died until I played these tapes."

Steven Roberts
Sergeant Steven Roberts was from the Cornish town of Wadebridge
In the audio diary, Sergeant Roberts describes day-to-day life in Iraq and speaks at length about the equipment situation.

He said: "Things we have been told we are going to get, we're not.

"It's disheartening because we know we are going to go to war without the correct equipment.

"It fills me with remorse really and I think remorse is the right word because I know we have received our orders."

On another occasion he said: "We are now back into one of the camps to 'up-armour', which again is a bit of a joke in itself because they are running out of the frontal armour.

"It will be interesting to see what armour I actually get. I will keep you posted."

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon had already spoken at length about the case in the House of Commons.

Mrs Roberts visited parliament on Tuesday when Mr Hoon dismissed allegations of inadequate supplies of body armour, protective equipment and weapons.

And she backed calls by shadow defence secretary Nicholas Soames for Mr Hoon's resignation.




SEE ALSO:
War widow demands Hoon apology
19 Dec 03  |  England
Mother demands Hoon resignation
19 Dec 03  |  Cornwall
Kit criticised over Gulf death
05 Aug 03  |  Cornwall


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