Body armour ‘may not have saved’ Sunderland soldier killed in Afghanistan

Sapper Richard Walker
Sapper Richard Walker
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BODY armour may not have saved a serviceman from being fatally wounded by a rogue Afghan soldier.

Sapper Richard Walker was shot through the shoulder in a green-on-blue attack at a patrol base in the in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helman.

The Royal Engineer was part of a troop dismantling the main gate of Patrol Base Hazrat, as it was being made smaller in preparation for being handed over to local forces.

An inquest in Sunderland heard how the Afghan National Army soldier turned his gun on the soldiers, during the deadly attack on January 6.

Sapper Walker’s comrades described diving for cover as they were hit by a round of fire from a temporary position in the base known as a sangar.

The attacker sprayed them with another two rounds of fire as he walked towards them, before being shot dead.

Father-of-one Sapper Walker, from Washington, was left with serious injuries to his shoulder and stomach.

None of eight who where hurt were wearing Osprey body armour, because of the work they were carrying out.

But Ministry of Defence expert Alan Hepper told Sunderland Coroner’s Court that he did not believe the 13kg protective layers would have saved the 23-year-old.

“The heavy armour would have not overlain the entry wound. The soft armour would have slowed the round down a bit, but it would have still got through the soft armour and caused some very serious injuries,” he said.

Despite the brave efforts of his fellow soldiers, Sapper Walker, known as Richie, was pronounced dead after being air-lifted to Camp Bastion.

He leaves daughter Lily-Faith, aged two.

Sergeant Jonathan Barton, who was a corporal at the time, said: “I remember hearing a second burst of about six rounds and Sapper Walker shouting in pain and saying ‘I have been shot in the arm’.

“I started pulling a couple of people into the sangar and Richie was going to be next.”

Coroner Derek Winter concluded that Sapper Walker, of Stridingedge, Blackfell, had been unlawfully killed while on active service.

Speaking after the hearing, Captain James Eadie said Richie was “sorely missed” by his colleagues and friends.

“We will always remember him,” he added.

Twitter: @janethejourno