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Last Updated: Friday, 10 November 2006, 19:36 GMT
Army blamed for Iraq heat death
Private Jason Smith
The coroner said proper procedures had not been followed
A coroner has blamed Army failures for the death of a Territorial Army soldier from heat stroke in Iraq.

Pte Jason Smith, 32, from Hawick, died in August 2003 in Al Amarrah after his body temperature soared to 41.1C.

Deputy assistant coroner for Oxfordshire, Andrew Walker, recorded a narrative verdict.

He said Pte Smith's death was caused by a "serious failure" in not recognising the difficulty he was having in adjusting to the climate.

Intense heat

Mr Walker said: "In my view Pte Smith would not have died if the proper procedures had been followed. He should have been taken out of that environment to be treated."

Pte Smith was a TA recruit, who was attached to 1st Battalion the King's Own Scottish Borderers (KSB),

He collapsed at an abandoned stadium, where his unit of the KSB were stationed, having previously complained about feeling ill probably due to the intense heat.

He died on August 13 at a nearby medical centre.

Daytime temperatures at the time were rising as high as 60C (140F), the inquest heard.

In his conclusions the coroner also criticised medical advice cards given to soldiers, instructing them to drink in the region of five litres of water a day.

Now we know that he would have survived had he received the right care
Catherine Smith
Experts told the hearing that in such heat the men should have been told to drink around 10 litres a day.

"The cards carried by the soldiers gave wholly inadequate instructions," said Mr Walker.

He also criticised the Ministry of Defence's pre-deployment fitness test, especially for TA soldiers, saying there were not an effective measure of an individual's physical or mental condition.

The inquest heard how some of the soldiers were being sent electrolyte dehydration powders from their families in the UK as supplies were running low in the Gulf.

Security reasons

Jessica Simor, a lawyer representing Pte Smith's parents, Catherine and George, from Hawick, urged Mr Walker to write to the prime minister and his defence secretary to point out the failures exposed at the inquest and demand an inquiry.

"Such an inquiry could save lives in the future and we believe such an inquiry should be carried out," she added.

Speaking afterwards, Mrs Smith said: "I always thought there was something not quite right about this because the Army would not give me the document relating to Jason's death.

"The report we did get was mostly blanked out for 'security reasons'.

"But now we know that he would have survived had he received the right care."

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06 Nov 06 |  South of Scotland
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21 Aug 03 |  Lincolnshire

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