Verdict returned in Dewsbury soldier Jake Hartley’s inquest

NEVER FORGOTTEN Nathalie Taylor with a picture of her late son, Corporal Jake Hartley.
NEVER FORGOTTEN Nathalie Taylor with a picture of her late son, Corporal Jake Hartley.
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Significant improvements have been made to the Army’s Warrior vehicles following the deaths of six British soldiers in Afghanistan.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter made observations about changes to the vehicles as he ruled the men had been unlawfully killed while serving their country.

Dewsbury soldier Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, of 3rd Batallion The Yorkshire Regiment, and five others were killed when an improvised explosive device detonated under their Warrior in Helmand Province on March 6, 2012.

The armoured vehicle was patrolling with another Warrior when it was blown up about 25 miles north of the capital of Helmand.

The force flipped it over and “flicked off” its turret and caused a fire which ignited ammunition.

The men inside are thought to have been either killed or knocked unconscious by the initial blast.

An inquest at Oxford Coroner’s Court heard no other vehicle of its type was designed to withstand such an explosion but improvements had been made, which included better armour, burst resistant fuel tanks, better emergency exits and improved fire detection and protection systems.

The coroner said “significant steps” had been completed and there was no need for a formal report under his powers because he was satisfied the areas of concern had been addressed.

Giving a narrative verdict yesterday (Thursday), Mr Salter said: “This of course is a tragic loss of these six soldiers and these young lives. At least it is very clear from the evidence of the two pathologists and the evidence of those who witnessed the strike that they did not suffer.

“It also follows that there was nothing that their comrades could have done to rescue or save them.”

Today Cpl Hartley’s mum Nathalie Taylor welcomed the investment in improving the Warriors.

“There are lessons that have been learned from this,” she said. “I’m pleased that they have improved the Warrior since March last year.

“There has been something [positive] out of this, but it shouldn’t take what’s happened.

“Our servicemen and women will continue to die while ever we let politicians run our lives. It’s more about value for money [for them].”

She said it had been hard to hear some of the evidence, and to see her son’s colleagues reliving what had happened.

“They did everything they could [to save them],” she said. “Every attempt was made, but it was so quick.

“I know those soldiers and am friend with them. They said it was very sensitive for them. It’s something they’ve not talked about for months.

“It’s still so painful for me, but I’m extremely proud of Jake and I’m proud he was part of the Yorkshire Regiment.”