Why wasn’t killed Sunderland soldier wearing body armour?

Sapper Richard Walker
Sapper Richard Walker
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A MUM today questioned why her fallen soldier son was not wearing body armour when he was shot dead by a rogue Afghan police officer.

An Army report seen by the Echo into the death of Sapper Richard Walker reveals the soldier:

•was wearing no body armour, his only protective clothing being gloves and eye protectors when he was shot in a green-on-blue attack;

•was working in pitch-black conditions, meaning his colleagues were unable to see where he had been injured;

•thought he had been shot in the arm, when in fact he had been fatally wounded in the chest.

Today, Sapper Walker’s mum, Kathryn, said her son stood “no chance” and branded a decision to allow the soldiers to work without body armour “ridiculous”.

She said: “I don’t understand why they were not wearing more protection, especially considering the number of green-on-blue attacks in the months beforehand.

“Whoever it was that decided it was safe enough for them to walk around without body armour is a disgrace. It was ridiculous.

“After all, this was not the first green-on-blue there had been.

“It was so dark, no one knew who was firing and from where. All they had were these tiny torches on their heads.

“The fact is, he stood no chance. They had nowhere to run and they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces.”

The Echo has seen a report which forms part of the Royal Military Police’s investigations into the death of the 23-year-old on Monday, January 7.

The report describes how Sapper Walker, of 28 Engineer Regiment, had been working on the construction of the International Security Assistance Force bases in Helmand Province, in preparation for the handover to the Afghan National Security Forces.

On January 2, Sapper Walker and his regiment were deployed to the base at Hazrat, where there was also Afghan National Army (ANA) warriors.

At 5pm on January 7, the Washington soldier and his colleagues were working on moving a gate.

The reports states: “It was already dark and there was no light from the moon. The lighting had all been stripped out of the patrol base and so lighting for the engineers to work was provided by the lights from a JCB vehicle and head torches.” At 7.25pm, the gate was being lifted into place when “there was the sound of automatic gun fire” coming from an ANA soldier.

The soldiers ran in all directions to take cover, but Sapper Walker was seen rolling on to his back, holding his right shoulder with his left hand.

At first, the injured soldier told colleagues who raced to help, he had been hit in his arm, but it was so dark, they were unable to initially find any wounds.

The report states: “By this time, Sapper Walker’s hand had moved from his arm to his top right chest. He continued to say he’d been shot and his breath became raspy.”

After being carried to cover, colleagues began first aid before moving to the Emergency Helicopter Landing Site where the injured soldier, now slipping in and out of consciousness, was airlifted to a field hospital at Camp Bastion.

The report states: “He was not breathing and had no pulse. An ultrasound scan showed there was no heart activity.”

Sapper Walker was certified dead at 8.39pm. He was just weeks away from returning home to see two-year-old daughter Lilly-Faith.

An inquest into the former Washington School pupil’s death is expected to be held in the coming weeks.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment on issues surrounding Sapper Walker’s death prior to the inquest.