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Meridian

The MOD should 'take responsibility' for Mark's death

The family of Sapper Mark Smith, who was killed in a 'friendly fire' incident in Afghanistan when a mortar shell fell short of its target, has told ITV Meridian that they believe his death was 'preventable' and that the Ministry of Defence's investigation into the incident was 'flawed'.

Sapper Smith served with 36 Engineers in Kent.

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Coroner calls investigation into soldier's death 'unsatisfactory'

A coroner has called for a statutory inquiry into 'systematic failures' in the investigation of the death of a British soldier killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan.

Sapper Mark Anthony Smith from Kent, died in the Helmand province in 2010 after a smoke screen shell fell 264 metres from its target.

The inquest at Old Town Hall in Gravesend heard that the investigation into the death of the 26-year-old suffered from missing evidence and incomplete documentation.

Coroner Roger Hatch said it was "unsatisfactory" and he would be reporting the matter to the Ministry of Defence.

There was no one factor that caused the shortfall, but a "number of possibilities or combination of factors", the coroner said.

Sapper Smith, from 36 Engineer Regiment, was serving with the Counter Improvised Explosive Device task-force when he was caught in the blast.

Meridian

Inquest for 'friendly fire' soldier

Sapper Mark Antony Smith, serving with the Counter-IED Task Force, who was killed in Afghanistan three years ago. Credit: MOD

An inquest will be held today into the death of a British soldier who was killed in a suspected friendly fire incident in southern Afghanistan three years ago.

Sapper Mark Antony Smith, 26, from Swanley, Kent, is thought to have died in an explosion after a shell landed short of its intended target on July 26 2010.

The serviceman, from 36 Engineer Regiment, was serving with the Counter Improvised Explosive Device taskforce when he was caught in the blast in the Sangin area of Helmand.

Known to his friends as "Smit" and to his Army colleagues as "Smudge", Sapper Smith was hailed as a soldier who made an "immediate and lasting impression".

He joined the regiment in December 2003 and was described by his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Hulme, as a "real character" who "lived life to the full".

Speaking following the tragedy, Lt Col Hulme said: "He had an unrivalled wit and sense of humour; few within the chain of command escaped his proportionally-measured acerbic wit."

Lieutenant Colonel David Southall, commanding officer of the Counter Improvised Explosive Device taskforce, said Sapper Smith hunted out IEDs in the "most deadly areas" on a daily basis after volunteering for his second tour of Afghanistan.

The inquest, which is expected to last five days, will take place at the Old Town Hall, High Street, Gravesend.

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