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'Outstanding' soldier was 'unlawfully killed'

L/CPL LUKE McCULLOCH: had previously served in Iraq and Northern Ireland
L/CPL LUKE McCULLOCH: had previously served in Iraq and Northern Ireland

A SOLDIER from Kent who died in a mortar attack in Afghanistan was unlawfully killed, an inquest has ruled.

Lance Corporal Luke McCulloch, 21, from Gillingham, was killed at his army compound in the Helmand province in September 2006 when Taleban rebels launched an attack on the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment.

L/Cpl McCulloch had removed his body armour and helmet outside of the bunker after finishing sentry duty in sweltering conditions, and was hit by shrapnel in the attack.

The coroner found that L/Cpl McCulloch, originally from Cape Town, had disobeyed a direct order not to be out in the open without wearing protective gear but acknowleded Sgt Major Michael Bolton’s comments at the inquest that there had not been enough "hard cover" available to accommodate all of the soldiers.

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

He added: "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."

L/Cpl McCulloch had previously served in Iraq and Northern Ireland, and was described by fellow soldiers as a "truly outstanding soldier".

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