Inquest hears lessons learnt about IEDs after deaths in Helmand

Military officials say detection techniques have been changed since two Marines died

Two Royal Marines who died in Afghanistan last May were unlawfully killed by an improvised explosive device (IED), an inquest has ruled.

Marine Sam Alexander, 28, and Lt Ollie Augustin, 23, died after stepping on a remotely-activated bomb in Helmand Province – only metres from where a similar explosion had killed another British soldier just three months earlier.

Military officials told the Wiltshire coroners court that the IED detection device used in operations had been changed since the three deaths as the explosives went undetected during initial sweeps in both incidents.

The IED in this case was not detected because it was a remote device with metal elements yards away. The new bomb scanner has higher capabilities than the old "Horn", as it can spot devices which use little or no metal.

Marine Alexander's father, Stuart Alexander, The Independent's sailing correspondent, last night called for lessons to be learnt from his son's death and urged the British and American to "think carefully" about the dangers of increasingly relying on the Afghan National Partnership as troops withdraw.

Marine Alexander, who was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in 2009 after saving the life of a wounded colleague in Afghanistan, and Lt Augustin had been working as part of a joint operation with Afghan National Forces to secure compounds in the village of Loy Mandeh Kalay.

Mr Alexander said: "This has been a harrowing day for Sam's family. "This was not a day to point fingers – that is something which Sam would have least wanted. To think that we can forever prevent similar things and such a vicious war is unrealistic."

He added: "What is clear to me is that the British and American governments need to think very carefully, especially as withdrawal of troops gathers pace, about whether the continuing insistence that ISAF [Nato] forces rely on the Afghan National Partnership is increasing the dangers into which they are sending our troops."

Captain Richard Hastings, a battleground intelligence officer for the Royal Marines, said that the men had not been told of the earlier death in the same area, and added that the information would have not prevented the double killing. "No one incident is going to shape something. Things move on quite rapidly and very quickly… Even if I had known I wouldn't have told the Marines in specifics, only if they had asked."

He added that the area the men were operating in had been handed over twice since the previous soldier's death, meaning it was probably "lost" in communication.

Marine Brett Newman, who had swept the area for IEDs with a Horn, told the inquest that he had done everything he could. "I did what I did and I wouldn't change it. I wouldn't have done anything differently."

Lt Col Steve Corbridge, of the defence inquest unit, said changes had been implemented since the three deaths including longer intelligence swoops.

Tributes were paid to both young men in court. Marine Alexander and Lt Augustin were with the Juliet company of 42 Commando.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Developer - Permanent - London - Up to £50k

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum 23 days holiday plus Pension scheme: Clearwater Peop...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn