A GOSPORT man who was killed searching for booby trap bombs in Syria after volunteering to fight against Islamic State has been hailed an ‘outstanding example of courage and self-sacrifice’ by a coroner.
An inquest in Portsmouth heard that Ollie Hall was angered by the Manchester terrorist attack, inspiring him to join Kurdish fighters in Syria.
The telecoms engineer left for Iraq via Germany on August 18 last year and met up with the Kurdistan People’s Protection Units (YPG), attending its training academy in Rojava, northern Syria, for five weeks before working to clear mines and explosives in Raqqa, where he died on November 25.
The 24-year-old’s mother, Jane Lyndon, said her son had not told her of his plans until he had arrived in the Middle East.
She said that on the day he left, he gave her £20 to pay for a taxi to get home from work.
‘He said ‘I love you Mum’ and I said ‘I love you’, and that was the last time I saw him,’ she said.
Describing him as having a strong personality, she said he was angered by terrorist attacks in the UK and Europe and his belief the government was not taking action.
She said: ‘I knew he was mad about them but we had no idea he felt so strongly.’
Mrs Lyndon, a nurse, said she had been told he went into a house in Raqqa to check after an elderly man and his daughter had been concerned about booby trap bombs.
Mrs Lyndon said another volunteer told her ‘he and Ollie were going through the house, they kept saying to each other ‘Look out, look out’ and two minutes later there was an explosion, he shouted out ‘Oliver, Oliver’ but there was no sound’.
Friend Jonathon Duncan said Mr Hall had been planning to go to Syria for about six months and had given up smoking and drinking and got fit before leaving.
He said recent terrorist attacks in the UK had inspired him to volunteer and added: ‘The one in Manchester was a bit too close to home. Europe is close but as soon as the attacks came over here, if anyone isn’t going to do anything we have to do it ourselves.’
Pathologist Brett Lockyer said former Bayhouse School pupil Mr Hall died of multiple trauma injuries likely to have been caused by two bombs.
Coroner David Horsley recorded a narrative verdict saying Mr Hall died ‘on active service with Kurdish forces. He gave his life to protect the safety of others’.
He added: ‘He was someone who felt deeply about the world and its problems and resolved to do something about it himself to bring an end to terrorism and repression.
‘So deep was his commitment that he gave up the secure and comfortable life in his family home.
‘His actions have made him a hero in the Kurdish community. He also should be an outstanding example of courage and self-sacrifice to whoever hears his story.’