An inquest into the death of a former marine who was shot and killed while working in private security in Iraq has been suspended until further notice.
Dad-of-two Phillip Harris, who grew up in the Red House area of Sunderland, died in August 2014 after being gunned down in the city of Erbil, in the northern area of the country.
At a pre-inquest review hearing at Sunderland Coroner’s Court on Friday, city coroner Derek Winter said that investigations into Mr Harris’s death were still ongoing in Iraq and that rather than setting another review hearing date, he was suspending the inquest until the legal process takes its course.
A man remains on police bail following the shooting.
“Phillip’s family have had regular updates from my officer who has been in contact with the Foreign Office,” said Mr Winter.
“I can only apply the law in this country and not abroad.
“The last I had heard from the authorities there was that family rights were a matter which would be given consideration.
“It is unlikely that there is to be any significant progress in the foreseeable future and rather than continue with a series of adjournments, I have decided to exercise my powers to suspend investigations.”
Mr Harris signed up to serve in the marines almost immediately after leaving school.
After tours in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan among others, he decided to leave in 2004 and move into private security work.
Following the hearing, Mr Harris’s sister Mandy Smillie, 41, who acts at the family’s spokeswoman, said: “It’s disappointing news but it’s what we expected to hear.
“We’ve had no further information back from the investigation in Iraq and the only thing that’s happened is my mam and dad have given statements to send there.
“Every day for us is living in hope that we get a little bit further forward, but the laws in Iraq are totally different to here and there is not much we can do.
“We will never give up our fight though.”