A HERO soldier who survived being shot at in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq was killed by an electric shock in a hotel room.
John Marley, 42, dodged bullets in war-torn areas and was decorated with eight military medals in his 24-year Army career with the Royal Engineers.
But the dad-of-two, from Cotsford Park Estate, in Horden, died after a freak accident when he was staying in a hotel in Mombasa, Kenya, where he was serving as a warrant officer with the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATAK).
John was off duty and getting ready for a night out when he went to plug in a lamp, but there was either a wire showing or a fault with the wall socket, and he suffered a fatal electric shock.
Although he had a pulse, medics who rushed to the scene couldn’t revive him.
His devastated family back home received the news that John had died, on April 26.
Today his distraught partner of 11 years, Paula Wild, told of her heartbreak.
She said: “I think I would have rather it happened while he was in action. I think I’m more in shock than anything, I feel empty.
“He was going to come out of the Army this time, before he was sent to Kenya, and I said ‘if you go back to Afghanistan, you’re not going’, but now this has happened.”
She said John’s parents Elizabeth and Kevin, with an Army representative, knocked on her door in the early hours to tell her the heartbreaking news.
“I’m still in denial,” she said.
Paula, 42, said John had just signed up for another two years in the Army after reaching the end of his service.
John, whose most recent Royal Engineers corps was 39 Engineer Regiment, flew to Kenya on Mother’s Day and was off duty getting ready at his hotel with two colleagues when the tragedy happened.
John was dad to Jonathan, eight, and six-year-old Jessica, and Paula says she has told them their “daddy is in heaven and not coming home”.
She added: “He has served in more or less every recent war. He has been to Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Ireland and has dodged bullets. He has got eight medals and he was dedicated to the Army, but he was also a doting dad and family man.”
John was born in Horden, attended Yohden Hall Comprehensive School, and was brother to Michael.
Paula, a part-time school crossing patroller and lunchtime supervisor assistant, said: “He was much-loved by everybody. He did anything anybody asked.
“But he was quiet as well and private, though he stuck up for himself. He enjoyed travelling and doted on his kids.”
An inquest has been opened and adjourned to a date to be fixed.
An investigation between the Kenyan Police and Military Police has been launched.
John’s funeral will take place on Friday at 11am at St Mary’s Church in Blackhills Terrace, Horden.