Tragic death of Spennymoor solider came after drinking session

A SOLDIER who died in a shooting at an airbase in Iraq would have been almost three times over the drink-drive limit, an inquest heard.

Lance Corporal David Wilson with his fiancee Michelle and daughter Poppy

A SOLDIER who died in a shooting at an airbase in Iraq would have been almost three times over the drink-drive limit, an inquest heard.

Lance Corporal David Wilson, 27, was found slumped over a desk at the Basra base in December 2008 – the morning after an illicit drinking session, the coroner has heard.

At the time, the Ministry of Defence said L-Cpl Wilson, who was serving with the 9 Regiment Army Air Corps, was not attacked by enemy forces and there was “no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved”.

But witnesses have told the inquest in Crook, County Durham, that a soldier told them at the wake “something happened that shouldn’t have happened” while four of them were drinking.

Forensic pathologist Nicholas Hunt said the gunshot passed from above the right temple, back through the brain and out of the left side towards the back of the head.

The pistol muzzle was pressed against the skull, he said, ruling out the possibility of fatal injury being caused by a ricochet from a shot fired by accident.

Tests afterwards showed he had 229mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system. The drink-drive limit is 80mg.

William Boyce QC, representing the family, produced the weapon L-Cpl Wilson apparently used to shoot himself, and pointed it at his own head. Mr Boyce demonstrated that the angle of the round’s trajectory meant the weapon must have been pointed at an awkward angle for someone intending to shoot himself.

Friends have said L-Cpl Wilson, who was from Spennymoor, County Durham, had everything to live for, having seen his daughter Poppy born 11 weeks before he died.

Soldiers on the airbase were only allowed to drink two cans of beer, and that was limited to rare, formal functions, the hearing has heard.

Warrant Officer Tony Todd, who was to be L-Cpl Wilson’s best man, admitted drinking vodka in the stores with his friend before the shooting. The pair worked together at RAF Dishforth and were close.

He said they finished two-thirds of a 500ml pop bottle that had been filled with vodka.

The pair were drinking as L-Cpl Wilson was to be assigned to other duties the next day and WO Todd was returning to Britain imminently, he said.

WO Todd said he left the store office at 2am, after they had a cigarette outside. L-Cpl Wilson went back inside while he went to bed, he said. Senior officers told WO Todd the next day his friend had died.

He denied telling three mourners the shooting occurred after something went “wrong” while others were present.

Mr Boyce said WO Todd was a superior and should not have encouraged L-Cpl Wilson to break the rules on alcohol. When soldiers drank their allotted two cans of beer they were disarmed, the inquest heard.

WO Todd explained they did not do that when they drank that night because “there was nowhere to put the weapons”. The inquest concludes today.

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