Iraq hostage 'had been shot in head'

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Iraq hostage Alec MacLachlan died from a gunshot wound to the head, an inquest heard today.

Mr MacLachlan, 30, of Llanelli, South Wales, was one of the five Britons kidnapped in Baghdad on May 29, 2007.

A group of 40 armed men wearing police uniforms seized the hostages in an attack at the Iraqi Finance Ministry in the capital.

The group included IT consultant Peter Moore, 36, from Lincoln, who is thought to still be alive, and negotiations for his release are ongoing.

The bodies of security guards Jason Swindlehurst, 38, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and Jason Creswell, 39, originally from Glasgow, were handed over to the British Embassy in Baghdad in June.

The family of the fourth security guard, Alan McMenemy, from Glasgow, was told by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in July he was "very likely" to have died.

Mr MacLachlan's body was flown home on September 7 after he was delivered to the Baghdad embassy in a wooden casket five days earlier.

An inquest into his death was opened and adjourned today during a short hearing at Salisbury Coroners Court.

Coroner David Ridley heard evidence from DCI Mark Moles, senior investigating officer from Metropolitan Police's counter terrorism command.

He told the court that Mr MacLachlan was identified by dental records, DNA samples and tattoos including one inscribed 'blood and honour'.

Following repatriation, his body was taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where a post-mortem examination was carried out.

The cause of death was recorded as a gunshot wound to the head.

DCI Moles asked Coroner Ridley to link Mr MacLachlan's inquest with those of Mr Creswell and Mr Swindlehurst because of "the circumstances of the kidnap and apparent similarities surrounding the cause of death".

He said the objective of his investigation was to have "a resolution to report on the outstanding two hostages".

He added: "I would like to place on record and pass onto the family of Mr MacLachlan the condolences of myself, my team and the Metropolitan Police Service for their extremely sad and tragic loss."

The inquest was adjourned to a provisional date of January 8, 2010 with the hearing scheduled to take place over nine weeks in April, 2010.

Mr MacLachlan's body was released to his family for burial.