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Last Updated: Friday, 7 December 2007, 15:21 GMT
Mortar soldier 'took helmet off'
L/Cpl Luke McCulloch
L/Cpl McCulloch was a South African-born British citizen
A British soldier who died in a Taleban mortar attack on his army compound in Afghanistan was unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.

An inquest also heard how L/Cpl Luke McCulloch, from Gillingham, Kent, had gone against orders by not wearing protective gear while out in the open.

He was wearing shorts and had no helmet on when he was hit by shrapnel at his Helmand base in September 2006.

The 21-year-old served with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment.

L/Cpl McCulloch had come off sentry duty in sweltering conditions and removed his protective gear to have a meal.

There was a direct order in place that soldiers should be in a bunker whenever they took their helmets and body armour off.

But Sgt Maj Michael Bolton told the inquest there was not enough "hard cover" to accommodate all of them.

Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker ruled: "L/Cpl McCulloch was unlawfully killed while on active service.

"There were orders which had they been adhered to and workable would have prevented L/Cpl McCulloch and others from sleeping and preparing for duty outside of the protective bunker without wearing their protective clothing."



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