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Target error led to the death of marine
HUMAN error was partly to blame for the death in Afghanistan of an “exceptional soldier” from north Hampshire, a coroner has ruled.
Jonathan Wigley, from Hook, died almost instantly when a 20-mm round mistakenly fired by an American jet pierced his body armour as he lay face down in a ditch, concluded Andrew Walker, deputy coroner for Oxfordshire.
The 21-year-old was in Zulu Company 45 Commando Royal Marines battling the Taliban in Helmand Province, when a forward air controller (JTAC) called in an air strike to strafe a line of trees where the enemy was, 430 metres to the south.
But, recording a narrative verdict, Mr Walker said the F18 pilot, who did not give evidence, made a fatal error.
He said: “When he began his attack, he misidentified the tree-line where Marine Wigley's troop were as the target.”
A total of 230 rounds were fired in the attack on December 5, 2006, in which another marine was also injured.
No criticism could be levelled at the JTAC for his role, said Mr Walker, who praised the American authorities for providing information.
Giving his condolences to the soldier’s family, Mr Walker added: “Marine Wigley was an exceptional soldier.”
A statement from Marine Wigley’s parents, Sharon and Clive, who agreed with the coroner’s verdict, read: “We would like to thank those who tried to save Jonathan. We wish to thank those who gave live evidence, in particular those who were there on December 5, 2006, and we know how difficult it was for them to do that.
“Finally, we particularly want to extend our thanks to all those who have supported our family after the loss of our son Jonathan.”
The marine was born in Leicestershire and grew up in Lincolnshire before later moving to Hook.
The findings will now be considered by the Ministry of Defence along with its own investigation.