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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Barrow soldier killed 'serving Queen and country'

THE family of a dedicated Barrow soldier killed by a Taliban gunman paid tribute to “heroic” efforts to save his life following an inquest.

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KINGSMAN DAVID SHAW

Jenny Shaw, 51, wept quietly yesterday as south Cumbria coroner Mr Ian Smith recorded his official verdict – that her son Kingsman Dave Shaw, of Flass Meadows, Barrow, was “unlawfully killed while serving Queen and country”.

Mr Smith said he was satisfied that Kgn Shaw, of 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, was killed by a bullet fired by hostile forces.

After the verdict, Kgn Shaw’s sister Sarah Shaw, 26, read a statement outside Barrow Town Hall on behalf of the family.

She said: “Firstly and most importantly we have to thank his platoon and his friends for working so hard to save his life. You did your best in an impossible situation.

“Through your courage and determination, you got him home. You gave us the chance to hold him, kiss him and say goodbye. For that we will be eternally grateful.”

On Wednesday the coroner’s court heard Kgn Shaw was shot in the neck on January 14 last year, while his platoon were on patrol at Checkpoint Pupalzy Shak in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan.

The bullet which struck him had “dipped” over the northern wall of the checkpoint, a fortified installation surrounded by 12ft by six foot ‘Hesco’ walls, after reaching the “end of its trajectory”.

The second day of the inquest, at Barrow Town Hall, heard the fatal shot was probably fired from a Russian-made PKM assault rifle – a model widely used by the Taliban but not by the British Army or the Afghan National Army.

Ballistics expert Katherine Scott, from Manlove Forensics, said a 7.62-calibre shell found near Kgn Shaw may have been the round that killed him.

Ms Scott said she could not definitively say whether the bullet that passed through Kgn Shaw’s neck was the same round which then ricocheted off the eastern wall of the checkpoint before striking his colleague, Sergeant Mark Stevens, in the back.

Evidence given on Wednesday estimated the bullet was fired from around 1,000 metres, but Ms Scott said without information on the sniper’s firing position the bullet could have travelled from anywhere between 400 and 4,000 metres away.

Summing up, Mr Smith said the bullet could have been fired from a greater distance and taken a wider arc, or from a shorter distance if it was fired upwards “like a golf ball being chipped into the air”.

He said although Kgn Shaw was not wearing his body armour at the moment he was shot, it would not have protected the area on his neck where the bullet struck.

He said: “When David was injured his colleagues rallied round him in superb fashion. Immediately the people right next to him helped him to the ground and applied pressure to the wound.

“(Army Medic) Lance Corporal Rachel Hughes came over in seconds to do the fantastic job we have heard about. I asked her if rounds were still coming in and she said she didn’t know, she was not thinking about that – she was only concerned with David.”

The court heard Kgn Shaw was airlifted to Camp Bastion after around 25 minutes, before being flown to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

He died on January 16 with a cerebral infarction resulting from a gunshot wound to the left side of the neck, recorded as the cause of death.

Mr Smith said: “Whether the shooting was with the intention of killing somebody or harassment, the effect is the same.”

After announcing the verdict he told the Shaw family: “It is no consolation to you; you have lost your son. But I want to thank you for your sensible and dignified approach.”

Mr Smith also praised the army for its “performance and professionalism” in reacting to Kgn Shaw’s injury and for remaining in close contact with his family following his death.

After the inquest, Mrs Shaw said her son had wanted to be a soldier since Year Two at school.

Kgn Shaw’s father, David, said he did not regret his son’s decision to join the army.

He said: “He loved it and they say if you do something you love you never work a day in your life.”

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