Inquest jury says soldier Mike Maguire was unlawfully killed in shooting at live-fire range

 

A soldier shot in the head in a safe haven at an Army live-fire shooting range was unlawfully killed, an inquest jury found today.

Michael “Mike” Maguire, 21, was hit in the temple by a single machine gun bullet fired by a fellow soldier during a training exercise.

Ranger Maguire was relaxing at a secure location just outside a training range at the Castlemartin Ranges, in Pembrokeshire, in May last year.

An inquest jury in Cardiff heard evidence about the tragic killing after sitting for more than two weeks.

The fatal bullet was fired one kilometre (0.6 miles) away inland towards another group of recruits on a live fire exercise. All live fire should have been safely aimed out to sea.

The family of ranger Maguire, who was originally from County Cork, Ireland, were present at the inquest throughout and welcomed the outcome today.

Michael Maguire senior listened in silence as the inquest verdict was read out today.

Jimmy Maguire, the ranger's older brother, said the inquest had been an "emotional ordeal" for the family.

He said that despite the outcome there were still unanswered questions.

The verdict leaves a question mark over the ability of the officer who planned and oversaw the shooting exercises.

Lieutenant Jonathan Price, the range conducting officer, passed the training course which allowed him to take charge of the exercises on the day.

But the inquest heard that course tutors, just nine months before, recommended that he receive extra supervision due to perceived weaknesses in his understanding of the course.

He went on to make a series of mistakes in the planning and carrying out of the live fire exercises.

"We note the verdict that the jury has reached, which reflects the very serious failings of the range conducting officer in the planning, setting up and conducting of this training exercise," Mr Maguire said.

"The inquest heard that he was a competent person, qualified to conduct this exercise.

"We are surprised and puzzled how somebody could have been considered competent to conduct an exercise of this nature when at the same time he made so many fundamental errors, and how this could not have been picked up through the chain of command and at the range.

"We are left wondering how someone with such limited experience could have been put in charge of the training exercise and the range with no senior officer present and without appropriate supervision."

Ranger Maguire was a member of the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment.

He had already spent one tour of duty in Afghanistan and was at the start of a series of low-level training exercises as part of the build-up to a second tour.

He was standing without a protective helmet and armour in a designated safe area when he was hit in the head by a machine gun bullet.

He was urgently airlifted to hospital in Cardiff where he was pronounced dead within 30 minutes of his arrival.

His family paid tribute to him in a statement read out after the verdict today.

"Mike was a dearly loved son and brother, and he is much missed by us, his family, and everyone who knew him.

"Our mother was sadly unable to be present at the inquest due to illness.

"We are pleased the inquest heard that Mike was a very well- liked member of his battalion, who served in difficult conditions in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It makes it all the more ironic that he should lose his life on a training exercise in Wales."

Mr Maguire said: "The inquest has been an emotional ordeal for us, but we thank the coroner and the jury for their thorough investigation in to Mike's death.

"However, we are disappointed that key personnel involved decided to rely on their right not to answer questions which were potentially self-incriminating rather than gave the inquest a full and true account of what happened.

"That has left us with unanswered questions, in particular about the actions of the people responsible for the planning of and safety on the exercise that caused Mike's death."

He added that the family hoped that other ongoing investigations would fill in outstanding gaps in the evidence.

A Health and Safety investigation and an Army Special Investigation Branch inquiry are both still looking into Ranger Maguire's death.

Mr Maguire went on: "We know that nothing can bring Mike back: our primary concern throughout this process, therefore, has been that nothing like this ever happens again.

"Soldiers should not be killed in training and we hope that lessons are learned Army-wide to ensure that another incident like this does not occur."

Ranger Maguire's tragic death ensured the deadly training exercise was stopped immediately.

But the inquest jury listened to evidence that suggested that his death could potentially have been just one among many.

Live machine gun fire wrongly directed inland towards the safe haven where ranger Maguire was relaxing was also directed up the coast towards a pleasure beach.

Freshwater West Beach, outside Tenby, is known as a "surfers' paradise" and, at 2.5kms away (1,56 miles), fell within the maximum 2.9km (1.8 miles) range of the machine gun.

Live fire was mistakenly directed at the beach and could potentially have hit civilians.

PA

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam