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Families give evidence at start of SAS march inquests

The families of three soldiers who died during an SAS exercise in South Wales on one of the hottest days of 2013 have told an inquest about the men and how they found out about the deaths.

The widow of Cpl James Dunsby, Bryher Dunsby Credit: Matthew Cooper/PA Wire

In a family statement read to the hearing by her lawyer, L/Cpl Roberts' mother Margaret questioned why the 24-year-old was "sent up there in that heat."

The family of L/Cpl Roberts, who was working as a teaching assistant, were informed of his death at 11.30pm on the day of the exercise, which had been held on the Brecon Beacons.

In their statement, family members said they later visited a hospital in South Wales, where they asked a commanding officer whether the timing of the march could have been changed.

"He replied 'There would be too much paperwork'," the family statement added. "We were so angry with this answer. We were being told that the march wasn't cancelled to save on paperwork."

L/Cpl Roberts Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Born in St Asaph in North Wales, L/Cpl Roberts joined the Army reserves while studying at the University of Leicester, and had also worked as a fitness instructor.

Described as being very patriotic, the banking and finance graduate served with the Royal Anglian Regiment in Cyprus before informing family members that he wished to be selected for the reserve special forces.

We were concerned, well actually terrified, about where he might be sent and the danger he might be put in.

But it didn't occur to us to be worried about training.

We are proud to be his parents. In the days and weeks that followed Craig's death we asked ourselves why he and others were sent up there in that heat.

We hope this inquest can answer that question

– Family statement
Cpl Dunsby Credit: MoD

The widow of Cpl Dunsby, who was an analyst for the Ministry of Defence, described him as tall, dark and handsome.

Bryher Dunsby added he was "charming", and "a delightful, eccentric mix between Flashman, a PG Wodehouse novel, and a Noel Coward play".

She also said the Afghanistan veteran was extremely fit, a trained combat medic and first joined the British Army as a reserve in 2005, having previously served with the Australian Army.

At one point she paused in her evidence, turned to the coroner and said: "I have to do right by him."

L/Cpl Maher Credit: MoD

The inquest heard that L/Cpl Maher was a former full-time Army soldier with the Royal Green Jackets who was no stranger to working in hot climates.

His father, also called Edward, said his son left the Army in 2009 but had joined up as a reservist after graduating from the University of Southampton.

Although we suspected he was working with special forces, we didn't ask him to confirm this.

In his spare time he volunteered with a number of charities, including Help for Heroes. He was interested in boxing, mixed martial arts and running.

He was superbly fit.

– Edward Maher, father

ITV News correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports:

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