The mother of a ‘heroic’ young man who died fighting Islamist extremists has hit out at the Kurdish group who ‘helped’ him get to Syria.
Ryan Lock, from Havant, died in December while fighting for the Kurdish force People’s Defence Units (YPG) against Isis, in Raqqa.
I’ve always been angry towards the YPG because if it wasn’t for them, Ryan wouldn’t be deadCatherine Lock
Portsmouth Coroner’s Court heard the wounded 20-year-old shot himself in the head after being surrounded by Isis forces.
He had sustained a serious bullet wound to his thigh which meant he could not move and decided to take his life rather than be captured, the inquest was told.
His mum Catherine Lock said he told family he was going travelling with friends in Turkey when he left the UK in August.
Ms Lock said she had no respect for the YPG.
She said: ‘I’ve always been angry towards the YPG because if it wasn’t for them, Ryan wouldn’t be dead.
‘They helped him to get to Syria. He would never have been able to get there on his own. From what I gather, it had been planned for quite a long time.’
It was not until the day after Ryan left that he messaged her to say he was in Syria fighting for the YPG.
Ms Lock said: ‘He just said he had planned the trip for ages and that he had time off work.
‘He said he would be going for a few weeks, maybe a month.
‘And when I found out he was going to Turkey I said, “You do realise that’s right next to Syria where there is a war”.
‘I hadn’t twigged that was exactly his plan, to head to Syria.’
Ms Lock said her son was a quiet boy who became secretive before he left home, and had tidied his room which was unlike him.
She said: ‘That was one of the things that I really questioned.
‘I actually said, “Are you planning on coming back because you have cleaned your room?”.
‘Deep down, there were things setting off alarm bells but I wasn’t getting the answers.’
While in Syria, Ryan, who was an apprentice chef at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, would contact his parents through Facebook Messenger about once a week or once a fortnight.
He told them about his day-to-day activities and asked about life at home.
Ms Lock said she wanted to tell Ryan to come home but was worried if she pushed him, he would stop communicating with her.
She told the hearing: ‘I remember saying to him, “I’m proud of you but for God’s sake come home safely”.’
The family last heard from Ryan on December 6 and when a fortnight passed without contact, they started to worry. It was not until after Christmas an American journalist got in touch with Ms Lock about fatalities in Syria.
After searching on the internet, Ryan’s dad Jon Plater found a picture of him dead on an Arabic website.
At the inquest pathologist Basil Purdue confirmed the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head.
His body was flown back to London Heathrow in February where it was given a guard of honour by the YPG.
Coroner David Horsley recorded a narrative conclusion into the former Warblington School pupil’s death.
He said: ‘Looking at all the evidence from a simplistic point of view it would be simple to say that Ryan has taken his own life but it doesn’t allow my conclusion to reflect the whole story.
‘He was an ordinary young man who gave up his safe and comfortable life for a cause he believed in passionately.
‘He died in a battle between Isis and Kurdish forces.
‘He suffered a serious wound to his leg which would have stopped him from being able to away.
‘He would have fallen into the hands of a cruel and ruthless enemy.
‘He was not prepared to let that happen and used his own weapon to avoid capture.
‘That was a very brave action.’
Speaking to Ryan’s family, Mr Horsley added: ‘Ryan was a heroic young man.
‘I am so sorry he has died but he died doing something that he clearly believed passionately in – that has to be a memorial to Ryan.
‘I am so sorry you lost him, you have lost him heroically.’