Bomb disposal victim 'overworked'

The widow of a bomb disposal hero who did not have the equipment to detect a new Taliban device which killed him said her husband's team was "undermanned and overworked".

Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid, 30, was posthumously awarded the George Cross for disarming 64 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in five months.

But on the day before he was due to fly home from Afghanistan to see his family, he triggered a pressure plate which had recently been developed by the Taliban, an inquest into his death heard last week.

His widow Christina criticised efforts to keep his team safe today, claiming he was too tired and ill to be working at the intensity he was prior to his death.

She told ITV's Daybreak: "I don't care how dangerous his job was, everybody should have been tripping over themselves to ensure that they were as safe as they could be under that pressure, and I can't see evidence of that."

She added: "They were undermanned and overworked."

Mrs Schmid walked out of her husband's inquest in Truro, Cornwall, last week.

She acknowledged that things have changed for the better since awareness was raised of the working conditions of bomb disposal teams, but she insisted that an independent inquiry was still required.

She said: "We need to look at what can we learn, where can we go from here?"

S/Sgt Schmid was hailed as "phenomenally great" and "a giant of a man" during last week's inquest.

He died after his knee came into contact with the plate as he disarmed his third set of explosives on that day in Sangin.

Colonel Bob Seddon, Britain's top bomb disposal officer who resigned last year, said it was a "constant battle" to keep up with new IEDs developed by the Taliban.

"With the equipment capability that Olaf had at the time, he would not have had the ability to detect a low metal content pressure plate," Col Seddon told the hearing.

Cornwall coroner Emma Carlyon heard that he had been "impatient" and "not his usual jovial self" on October 31 2009.

But summing up evidence at Truro Coroner's Court, she recorded: "There was nothing in the operation which fell below what might have been expected and that could have contributed to his death."