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Lance Corporal David Wilson Inquest Hears Of 'Drunken Shooting Incident'

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A soldier died in a drunken shooting incident while he was with three comrades in Iraq, one of them told mourners at his wake, an inquest has heard.

Lance Corporal David Wilson, 27, had become a father to Poppy just 11 weeks before and had "everything to live for" when he died at the Basra airbase in December 2008.

david wilson death

Lance Corporal David Wilson was described by a colleague as a 'bubbly comedian'

At the time the Ministry of Defence said L/Cpl Wilson, who was serving with the 9 Regiment Army Air Corps, was not attacked by enemy forces and there was "no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved".

Brenda Trotter, who attended the funeral, told the inquest in Crook, County Durham, 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, a friend and neighbour of L/Cpl Wilson's fiancee, also called Michelle, heard the soldier say: "We were all drunk. It was something that never should have happened."

She told the inquest: "I automatically thought somebody was involved in David's death, whether it was by accident or I just don't know...

"David would not have done it to himself."

L/Cpl Wilson, who had deployed late to Iraq after the birth of his daughter, had planned to get married the following year and worked in stores serving with the Joint Helicopter Force.

His friend L/Cpl Amanda Walker, who was in Iraq with him at the time, told the inquest: "He was a bubbly comedian every day."

She agreed with William Boyce QC, representing the family, when he said that everyone liked him, he was besotted with his fiancee and daughter and that his job was going well.

Major Alistair Stocker told the inquest the airbase at Basra was "like a small city" and very busy.

Alcohol was only allowed at rare, formal functions and, even then, soldiers were limited to drinking two cans of beer, he said.

The inquest, attended by the soldier's fiancee, his father Ian and identical twin Michael among others, continues.

The soldier was found slumped over a desk with a 9mm pistol close to his right hand. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Cpl Toby Box, serving with the RAF to defend the base, was called to the scene by a Warrant Officer.

He told the inquest the soldier had shouted: "One of my lads has blown his head off."

At the time, British deployment in Iraq was coming to an end and the base was only infrequently attacked by outsiders.

Yet Major Stocker said soldiers were ordered to carry firearms at all times because of the danger of local contractors attempting a kidnap.

A few days before he died, L/Cpl Wilson offered a plastic cup containing diet Coke and an unknown spirit to his Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, he told the inquest.

But Warrant Officer2 Ian Fowler said L/Cpl Wilson, whom he trusted to babysit his children, was never seen to be under the influence of drink at work.

Alcohol did not mix with aviation, all personnel knew, and officers knew to check their staff for signs of drinking, the inquest heard.

But the amount of alcohol posted to servicemen from family and other well-wishers meant it was difficult to police, he said.

After the fatal shooting a bottle of whisky and a half-bottle of vodka were found in a nearby fridge, the inquest heard.

WO2 Fowler discovered his comrade slumped on his desk when he arrived for work at 9am on 4 December 4.

"I thought he was asleep, I called him lazy," he said.

It took him some moments to realise he had a gunshot wound through his head.

Tests after he died showed L/Cpl Wilson was theoretically three times over the drink-drive limit when he died, despite the two beer rule.

WO2 Fowler told Mr Boyce he believed his comrade was drinking diet cola and knew he was consuming alcohol when the pair were in the same building the night he died, the inquest heard.

The inquest into the death of the soldier, from Spennymoor, County Durham, continues tomorrow.