Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 14:17 UK

Soldiers' lives taken 'callously'

(L-R) Lance Corporal Tom Gaden, Lance Corporal Paul Upton and Rifleman Jamie Gunn
The men died from wounds they suffered in the explosion

A coroner has said the way the lives of three soldiers were taken in Afghanistan was "cold, callous and arguably cowardly".

Cpl Tom Gaden from Somerset, L/Cpl Paul Upton from Cornwall and Rifleman Jamie Gunn from south Wales died when a bomb struck their Land Rover on 25 February.

They were 4km (2.48 miles) from the camp when the home-made device blew up the road killing the three men.

The bomb was triggered from a wire about 475m (519yds) away.

'Largest explosion'

Captain Richard Camp, who was an officer in a convoy which included the men's Land Rover, described to the inquest how the bomb, placed under a main road, blew a crater which was more than 6ft (1.82m) deep.

The explosives had been packed into a culvert pipe beneath the new metal road, causing the biggest explosion any of the witnesses had seen.

Cpt Camp said: "The vehicle was obliterated.

"Nearest to me the engine block was upturned. Forward of that was the main body upside down. Then forward of that was the gun turret upturned. Three big bits and a number of small bits."

It's clearly my view that they didn't stand a chance.
Coroner David Ridley

Experts said no vehicle would have withstood the force of the improvised device.

The main charge consisted of 551lb (250kg) of home-made explosive, whereas the average roadside bomb in Afghanistan contained just 44-55lb (20-25kg).

The coroner, David Ridley, said: "To put that in context - that's by far the largest amount of home-made explosive I've come across. That explains the devastation. It's clearly my view that they didn't stand a chance."

All three men - Cpl Gaden, 24, from Taunton, Rifleman Gunn, 21, from Monmouth and L/Cpl Upton, 31, from Looe - died from the wounds they suffered in the explosion during an escort patrol in the Gereshk district of Helmand Province.

The coroner recorded verdicts of unlawful killing at the inquest in Trowbridge in Wiltshire.

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