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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 July 2003, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Kabul soldier killed by colleague
Machine gun
The machine gun discharged accidentally
A soldier on patrol in Kabul died after being shot by a colleague who had a dizzy spell as he handled his machine gun, an inquest has heard.

Father-of-one Private Darren George, 23, was on duty in the Afghan capital weeks after the fall of the Taliban when a ricocheting bullet hit him in the head.

The soldier, from the Essex-based Royal Anglian Regiment, died in April 2002 as he was being flown from Afghanistan to Oman for treatment, the inquest at Chelmsford heard.

A jury sitting with coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray returned a verdict of accidental death.

Private Sean Metcalfe told the jury his machine gun had discharged accidentally when he went to collect ammunition that had fallen to the ground.

Caught the trigger

He told the inquest he took the weapon off his shoulder put it on to the floor and was going through the normal safety drill of unloading and loading the weapon when he "went dizzy" and fell back as he was cocking it and caught the trigger.

Following the hearing solicitor Paul Harrington, who was representing Pte George's wife, Sarah, said she felt no anger to Mr Metcalfe.

Mr Harrington said: "Having heard what happened she apportions no blame.

"Her feelings are one of forgiveness (to Private Sean Metcalfe). He has expressed contrition and she hopes they can both get on with their lives."

The solicitor said Mrs George, who lived with her husband at Pirbright, Surrey, but who now lived in Basildon, Essex, hoped to bring a compensation claim against the Ministry of Defence.

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17 Jul 03 |  South Asia

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