FIVE soldiers who were gunned down by a rogue Afghan policeman they were mentoring were unlawfully killed, a coroner has ruled.
WO1 Darren Chant, Sgt Matthew Telford, Guardsman James Major, Acting Cpl Steven Boote and Cpl Nicholas Webster-Smith were shot dead when Afghan police officer Gulbuddin Mohammed went on the rampage with an AK-47 assault rifle at a checkpoint on November 3, 2009.
An four-day inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, heard WO1 Chant, a father of three from Horndean, was leading a team of soldiers training Afghan National Police (ANP) at checkpoint Blue 25 in the village of Shin Kalay, Nad-e’ Ali district, Helmand province.
The former Petersfield Town footballer died instantly in the shooting while the men were relaxing at the checkpoint following a busy morning out on patrol.
It is thought drug-taker Gulbuddin was a Taliban supporter.
Coroner David Ridley ruled the British troops were unlawfully killed while on active service in Afghanistan.
The soldiers’ commanding officer Lt Col Charles Walker paid tribute to the men as ‘the bravest of the brave’.
He said: ‘It is a singular honour that I have had to have worked with them in Afghanistan. The foundations that they laid continue today.
‘There is prosperity in that region now, and I have no doubt that is down to the work they did in those early days.’
Brigadier James Cowan, who was in charge of 9,500 men in southern Afghanistan told the men’s families they did not die in vain because it prompted reform of the ANP.
This included the establishment of the Helmand Police Training College, compulsory drug testing, stricter vetting of recruits and DNA profiles of all policemen.
‘I really can not stress strongly enough how shocking the incident was but also just the degree of good that came out of those changes,’ Brig Cowan said.