A family has criticised the Ministry of Defence for its handling of the investigation around a soldier's death.
Lance Corporal David Wilson was from Spennymoor. He was found with a gunshot wound to the head while serving in Iraq in 2008.
In recording an open verdict, the County Durham coroner also spoke out over the time it has taken to bring the inquest to court.
Helen Ford was at the hearing in Crook.
The coroner has recorded an open verdict in the case of a County Durham soldier who was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head at his base in Basra while on an army tour in Iraq.
Lance Corporal David Wilson had a young baby and was planning his wedding, and he was described by colleagues as having everything to live for.
The coroner apologised to the family for the delay in completing the inquest, which he said was bordering on" inexcusable".
A father has told an inquest that his son, a County Durham soldier who died in a drunken shooting incident at an airbase in Iraq, was "meticulous" about weapon safety.
27-year-old Lance Corporal David Wilson was found slumped at a desk at Basra airbase in December 2008 with a gunshot to his head.
He had become a father 11 weeks before and was an upbeat character with everything to live for, the inquest heard.
His family do not believe he deliberately shot himself, and believe horseplay or an accident could have been the cause.
The hearing was told how military police investigators botched elements of the inquiry, meaning a full picture of what happened that night has been obscured.
He had been drinking vodka - a breach of Army rules - hours before he died and was three times over the drink-drive limit.
– Ian Wilson, father of Lance Corporal David Wilson
"With regards to the Army and weapons, my understanding was that he was meticulous.
"I have difficulty squaring the horseplay with the weapon in drink."
A soldier from County Durham had been drinking before his death at an army base in Iraq in December 2008, an inquest has heard.
The inquest into the death of Lance Corporal David Wilson heard from the colleague he was with on the evening before he was found slumped over a desk with a gun by his hand.
Warrant Officer Anthony Todd told the coroner at Crook in County Durham that the pair had drunk around 300 millilitres of vodka because it was the end of their tour together.
He said they were aware that drinking alcohol was against the rules and they were no more than merry and tipsy.
Warrant Officer Todd told the inquest that Lance Corporal Wilson had asked him to be his best man that night and was excited about the recent birth of his daughter.
The inquest will resume tomorrow.
The inquest into the death of a County Durham soldier has heard that Lance Corporal David Wilson had been drinking the night before his body was discovered.
Lance Corporal David Wilson had a new baby and was planning his wedding, due to return home in a few weeks, when he died in strange circumstances in Iraq.
Watch the full report from Dan Ashby below.
An inquest has heard how a soldier found dead at his army base in Iraq in December 2008 was found with a gun close to his hand.
Corporal Toby Box, serving with the RAF, was called to the scene by a Warrant Officer.
He told the inquest that the soldier had shouted: "One of my lads has blown his head off."
Lance Corporal David Wilson was found slumped over a desk with a 9mm pistol close to his right hand. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
Major Stocker told the inquest that soldiers were ordered to carry firearms at all times because of the danger of local contractors attempting a kidnap.
An inquest has heard how a soldier from the Witton area of County Durham was found dead with a gun in his hand on his base in Iraq.
Lance Corporal David Wilson died in December 2008, just weeks before he was due home from Basra.
Dan Ashby has been at the inquest - watch the lunchtime update from him below.
An inquest has heard how a County Durham soldier died in a drunken shooting incident while he was with three comrades in Iraq, one of them told mourners at his wake.
Lance Corporal David Wilson had become a father just weeks before and had "everything to live for" when he died at the airbase in 2008.
At the time the Ministry of Defence said Lance Corporal Wilson was not attacked by enemy forces and there was "no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved".
Brenda Trotter told the inquest in Crook she had asked one of the soldiers present at the wake if Iraqis were to blame.
"He turned around and said 'No, there were four of us. We had been drinking. Something happened that should never have happened'," she said. "I was stunned."
Her daughter Michelle heard the soldier say: "We were all drunk. It was something that never should have happened."
The family of Lance Corporal David Wilson, who was found dead at his army base in Iraq in 2008, have released a statement saying that he had been "fulfilling his lifelong ambition to be a soldier."
The 27-year-old grew up in County Durham and had been in the army for five years.
An inquest into his death is taking place in Crook today.
Read the full statement below:
– Statement from Lance Corporal Wilson's family
"David was a loving and devoted family man who was the light of Michelle's life. The recent gift of their beautiful baby daughter had made his world complete.
"David wore his uniform with pride and was fulfilling his lifelong ambition to be a soldier.
"The family are extremely proud of him and our world will be a much sadder place without him. Words cannot express how much he was dearly loved."