A CORONER has ruled a Bridlington soldier was unlawfully killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Two heroic soldiers were killed while rescuing an injured colleague in
Afghanistan, an inquest heard on Friday.
Corporal Matthew Stenton, 23, of the Royal Dragoon Guards, whose father and step mother live in Queensgate, Bridlington, and Lance Corporal Stephen Monkhouse, 28, of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards, both received posthumous Military Crosses for their bravery.
They were killed by small-arms fire after insurgents shot a fellow serviceman in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, on July 21 last year.
The inquest, at Trowbridge in Wiltshire, heard they had gone to the aid of a Scots Guard who had been shot during a fierce gunfight with insurgents.
Cpl Stenton had manoeuvred a Viking armoured vehicle down a narrow alleyway during the fight to help remove the wounded soldier.
Meanwhile, L/Cpl Monkhouse was the gunner of a Coyote vehicle, which was providing support.
Both were killed in the ensuing gunfire while their colleague survived.
Sgt Darrell Winn, who was inside the Viking, told the inquest that he and a colleague had just lifted the injured soldier into the vehicle when Cpl Stenton was shot.
“When we pulled forward that’s when Matthew got shot,” he said. “He just slumped down.”
The inquest was told the soldiers had been providing force protection to a squad of engineers searching for improvised explosive devices when they came under heavy automatic gunfire.
Both Cpl Stenton and L/Cpl Monkhouse were evacuated to the nearest patrol base and airlifted to hospital at Camp Bastion, where they were declared dead.
Post-mortem examinations revealed they had both suffered gun shot wounds to the face and neck - most likely from an AK47 - and would have died almost instantly.
Their body armour would not have saved them.
Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner David Ridley recorded a verdict of unlawful killing while on active service in Afghanistan.
He said: “Matthew and Stephen died as a result of the same incident - an horrendous firefight.
“Matthew was returning fire to the south of the position when he was shot in the face, Matthew sustained an injury incompatible with life”.
Mr Ridley added: “I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Matthew and Stephen were shot by insurgents.
“The appropriate conclusion to record is that they were both unlawfully killed while on active service in Afghanistan.”
Earlier this year Matthew’s father Michael and his stepmum Gillian travelled to collect the Military Cross posthumously awarded to Michael from The Queen at Buckingham palace.
It is one of the country’s highest military honours.
The couple were also both present at last Friday’s inquest hearing.
Speaking at their home this week Michael, 54, said the verdict was what they had been expecting.
“I had been waiting for this to come and be a form of closure on everything but it hasn’t been. I still feel the same.
“I want to thank the people of Bridlington who have supported us and Matthew and most recently the Poppy Appeal, we were at the appeal in the Promenades shopping centre and the amount of people who gave was incredible,” said Michael.