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  1. ITV Report

Young fighter turned gun on himself to avoid being captured by IS militants

Ryan Lock feared he would suffer a frightening and painful death Credit: Facebook

A inquest has heard how a young Briton died fighting alongside Kurdish forces in Syria - to avoid falling hostage to Islamic State (IS) militants.

A coroner said Ryan Lock, 20, from Havant in Hampshire, died a hero last December fighting with the People's Defence Units (YPG) in the northern city of Raqqa, considered to be the IS de facto capital.

Former chef Mr Lock, who had no previous military experience, joined the Kurdish militia after telling his family he was going backpacking to Turkey in August last year.

An inquest in Portsmouth heard that after being wounded and surrounded by IS fighters, he turned his gun on himself to avoid being captured and suffering a "frightening and painful death".

Recording a narrative verdict (where the facts are stated) Portsmouth and South East Hampshire coroner David Horsley said Mr Lock had sustained a leg wound that left him at risk of falling 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 can only be viewed as a brave action.

– South East Hampshire coroner David Horsley
Mr Lock had no military background Credit: Family

Mr Lock's mother, Catherine Lock, told the inquest how her son had given few clues about his intentions to fight IS in Syria. She recalled him remarking how bad the situation was in Syria after watching a television news item.

It wasn't something he would constantly comment on, but he was quite a quiet person. He could be quite sheltered, and he would be quite careful what he said.

He just said that he had planned this for ages and that he had time off work. He said he would be going for a few weeks, maybe a month. When I found out he was going to Turkey, I asked him if he realised that was right next to Syria where there was a war.

– Catherine Lock, mother
Mourners said Ryan's memory would live forever Credit: ITV

Dozens of people, including members of the Kurdish community, held roses and framed pictures of Mr Lock at Heathrow Airport as his body was repatriated to the UK in February.

Supporters of the YPJ female fighting force said his "memory will forever live on in our struggle for the freedom of Syria and our hope for change in the whole world".