A coroner hearing the case of a young Royal Marine shot by his own side in Iraq found today that his death was caused by "serious failings" on the part of the military.
Marine Christopher Maddison, 24, was killed as he patrolled the Khawr Az Zubayr river in southern Iraq in a landing craft in March 2003.
Missiles were fired at his boat after Royal Engineers soldiers manning a crossing point upriver were told they were being approached by two enemy craft, Oxford Coroner's Court was told last week.
Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker recorded a narrative verdict today that Marine Maddison, from Scarborough and based in Plymouth, died from shrapnel wounds inflicted by a Milan missile fired by British forces protecting the crossing point.
He said there had been serious failures: in the chain of command at the crossing point, the failure to provide a liaison officer who would have kept them updated of the patrol's identity and whereabouts, and failure to provide adequate communication between three Commandos' headquarters - the crossing point and the two landing craft that made up Marine Maddison's patrol.
He said: "I've had the privilege during the last few days to hear from men whose courage and bravery when they came under fire is truly remarkable and follows that tradition within our armed forces of heroism and self-sacrifice, of which all of us are rightly proud."
But he added that Marine Maddison, "a skilled, professional and dedicated Marine who was highly regarded by those he worked with, ... was let down by those who were in command and by the communication system in operation at that time".
In a statement read by coroner's officer Geoff Webb, Marine Maddison's mother Julie said the Ministry of Defence had failed in its duty of care towards her son.
She said: "If a senior officer or officers had ensured that all procedures and orders necessary, and usual, had been in place before the initial task force was sent out, the resultant confusion would not have taken place.
"This omission resulted in catastrophe and the creation of a dangerous situation which ultimately led to the death of our beloved son."
The inquest heard previously that those protecting crossing point Anna should have been, but were not, aware of the patrol's plan.
Senior officers should have shared information at a briefing the night before the patrol went out, and a liaison officer should have been stationed at the crossing point to ensure the patrol's safety.
Mrs Maddison said: "It was senior officers' responsibility and duty to ensure a foresight of risk. Leadership fell far below what could be reasonably expected in the circumstances."
She went on: "The lack of duty of care to possible risks and consequences even I, as a lay person, could have foreseen, effectively created an obvious chain of events which could have led to further loss of life."Reuse content