Open verdict given in case of army private who died in Portsmouth

INQUEST Private Matt Brooks
INQUEST Private Matt Brooks
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton and District Commander Superintendent Maggie Blyth. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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A CORONER has recorded an open verdict for a soldier who was assaulted in a Portsmouth car park.

Private Matt Brooks died after suffering severe head injuries following a fight with Dean Aldcroft in a Portsmouth car park on May 13 last year.

He died five days later.

Pte Brooks, 18, from Trowbridge in Wiltshire had been training at HMS Sultan in Gosport at the time of the attack.

Southampton Coroner’s Court was told of the night Pte Brooks and Mr Aldcroft met in Yates’s bar in Guildhall Walk.

A fight broke out and the pair and their friends were thrown out.

Moments later they met in the Alec Rose car park nearby, and witnesses told how Mr Aldcroft repeatedly punched and kicked Pte Brooks.

Mr Aldcroft insists he only hit Pte Brooks once.

The 22-year-old, from Warwick Crescent in Southsea, was initially charged with manslaughter and common assault but the charges were later dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service said it had insufficient evidence.

The Coroner for Southampton Keith Wiseman said he was required by a process of elimination to record an open verdict.

He said: ‘I would like to once again express my very sincere condolences to the family in relation to such a sad loss.

‘It is not a matter they will ever really been able to get over in any event, but having a burning sense of injustice alongside it will I know make the future very hard to bare.

‘I can only offer my very best wishes to them.’