Coroner records open verdict in soldier's death

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Coroner records open verdict in soldier's death

27th February 2013

Following a three-day inquest in Crook, County Durham, into the death of Lance Corporal David Wilson in December 2008, the Coroner Mr Andrew Tweddle today (27 February) recorded an open verdict.

“David died from a single gun shot wound to the head,” said the Coroner. “On balance I find that he was sitting at his desk. There is no evidence that he fired a shot accidentally. He was intoxicated and this had an effect on his decision-making.

“I found no evidence, even on the balance of probabilities, that David intended to take his own life. In those circumstances the only appropriate verdict is an open verdict.”

Immediately after the hearing, L/Cpl Wilson’s brother Michael issued the following statement:

“From start to finish this has been a flawed process. From the discovery of David’s body there was an incompetent crime scene investigation, followed by an at best sub-standard attempt by the Ministry of Defence to consider the possible causes of David’s death in circumstances where those directing that investigation wrongly closed their minds to there being anything other than one possible explanation.

We as a family have been wronged by flawed processes. Those responsible include not just the Ministry of Defence but also the Court. We are appalled that the Coroner had to seize the initiative and write personally to the Prime Minister to try to ignite the investigatory process.

We have sat through a three-day hearing and heard evidence that was available to all within a year of David’s death. It has also become clear that four years and three months on from David’s death, the Ministry of Defence has not had the courtesy either to David, ourselves or the Coroner, to disclose all relevant material.

David was a wonderful young man. He was a loving and devoted fiancé, father, a wonderful son and my identical twin brother. This inquiry has shown all how David was and all that he had to live for.

No-one will ever know what truly happened. What we know is that David will forever be in our hearts.

During this process we have not just lost David but also our mother, Dot. She, like us, lived to get to the truth. She never believed the Ministry of Defence’s cruel interpretation of these events. We are disappointed that as a family we have had to wait so long and then have had to fight so hard for answers. We hope that others do not have to endure what we have had to.

We wish to express our deep gratitude to all those who have supported us through these troubled years. We are particularly grateful to Mr Kevin Hart and Mr Karan Ahluwlia of the Royal British Legion, Mr Mark McGhee of Fentons Solicitors,  and most particularly William Boyce QC and Frazer Coxhill of QEB Chambers for their tireless support, their particularly wise counsel and their superb representation throughout this traumatic process.

This, for us, cannot be the end of this matter. There are now a number of other crucial issues that we as a family must now address before David will truly be able to rest.

David leaves a young daughter, Poppy. Our focus now will be upon her, in the hope that she achieves all that her wonderful father would have wished her to.”

Read more at: ITV News, BBC News, Mirror