10:35am Tuesday 5th November 2013
ROGUE Afghan policemen shot dead two unsuspecting members of a British patrol who had been helping to train them, an inquest has heard.
Lance Corporal Lee Davies, of Columbus Close, Barry, and Corporal Brent McCarthy, of Shropshire, were inside the local police headquarters when their supposed allies turned on them.
Other Afghans chased down and killed one of the fleeing suspects but no information has been revealed about what happened to the second.
Cpl McCarthy, aged 25 years, had volunteered to be deployed to the war-torn country as part of a Royal Military Police unit helping to advise the local force.
L/Cpl Davies was just six weeks into his first deployment when he was killed. He was 27 years old.
The inquest into their deaths heard the two men were part of an eight-strong patrol from Patrol Base Attal, near Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, which made the 300-metre foot crossing to the nearby Afghan Uniformed Police (AUP) headquarters.
Their commanding officer, Lieutenant Ben Bardsley, was attending an arranged meeting, or shura, with his Afghan counterpart - a regular occurrence as part of the Police Advisory Team (PAT).
On arrival their interpreter spoke to a young Afghan policeman and the UK troops entered the compound, with some climbing into the watchtowers, while the two ill-fated men stayed by their equipment and covered the centre-ground of the large compound.
It transpired that the local commander was not there but the meeting went ahead with his second-in-command, who was also his son.
Guardsman Matthew Jones, who was in a watchtower, said in a statement: "(Guardsman Josh) Foley came up to my sanger (watchtower). As I was about to go down the ladder I could hear gunfire in small bursts.
"There appeared to be more than one weapon.
"Foley stood up and looked out and shouted out something like: 'They've shot two of our boys'."
He stood up to see for himself and saw two men in Afghan police uniform running across fields on the far side of the road.
Gdsmn Foley took aim and fired at the men and one fell to the ground before getting up and running on again.
Gdsmn Jones and Afghan policemen then stopped him from firing again, fearful that the police officers were chasing the real gunmen, only to realise the truth when it was too late.
The troop's Afghan interpreter, described at the inquest as 'Person B', had accompanied the British commander and two other soldiers into a room for the meeting and had removed their body armour and helmets.
In a statement to British military investigators he said: "About 20 minutes into the shura I heard gunfire.
"We left the room and I could see lots of confusion in the compound."
He said one of the Afghans then told him: "They've shot one of your boys."
The interpreter added that the majority of the Afghan police then "ran off" in the direction of the nearby village.
They returned shortly afterwards in a car, bringing with them the body of a man in Afghan police uniform.
"The second-in-command was claiming to have killed this individual," he said.
"I saw the deceased Afghan male. Despite him having a gunshot wound to his face I recognised him as the Afghan I had spoken to when I arrived (at the compound)."
He described the man as about 18 or 19 years old and with brown skin. The Afghan commander said he had been in the Afghan National Police for two years but had only arrived at the headquarters two days before the shooting.
Post mortem examinations and investigation of his body armour and helmet revealed that Cpl Brent McCarthy had been shot at several times.
The Royal Air Force policeman died as a result of catastrophic injuries to his lungs, heart and aorta by a bullet crossing his chest from left to right.
LCpl Davies, of 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards, was hit by a number of rounds, one passing through his head, another across his chest and one through his abdomen.
Pathologist Dr Russell Delaney said in both cases that the injuries were unsurvivable and that no medical care, however prompt or expert, could have saved them.
The inquest into the deaths of Cpl Brent McCarthy, of Priorslee, Telford, Shropshire, and LCpl Davies, of Barry, continues at Oxford.
The Afghan policemen who killed the two British servicemen had been posing for pictures with their international colleagues and exchanging their rifles just minutes before the shooting.
The court was shown copies of the photographs, with the ill-fated soldiers holding the Afghans' AK47s and one of the Afghans holding a British SA80.
Gdsm Josh Foley also said Cpl Davies had pointed out that one of the young local policemen appeared to have urinated on himself during the encounter.
Gdsm Foley, who had been with the group before going to the watchtower, explained that the Afghans had walked past and they had tried to engage them in conversation. However, the Afghans spoke no English and could not understand them.
Cpl McCarthy then wanted to take some photographs, including him posing with an AK47.
"I believe the AK47 he handed me had a magazine fitted," Gdsm Foley told the inquest.
"I turned around and picked up Cpl McCarthy's rifle and handed it to the AUP man to look at but he didn't seem that interested.
Gdsm Foley said that LCpl Davies said to him the AUP man had urinated on himself, adding "'He's scared of you.'
"He said this in a jokey manner," Gdsm Foley told the inquest.
Oxfordshire senior coroner Darren Salter asked him: "Did it appear from anything you observed they had taken offence or anything like that?"
"No," replied the soldier.
He said at the same time as those comments were made he left to take over in the watchtower.
While there and talking to Gdsm Jones and the other Afghans in the tower, he heard gunshots.
"I saw two AUP pointing their weapons at Cpl McCarthy an LCpl Davies. I didn't see the AUP fire any more shots.
"Within a second they were running."
The coroner heard that Lance Corporal Jo Price - a Guardsman at the time - was in the compound's other watchtower when the shooting started.
He told the inquest he did not know where the firing was coming from.
He recalled looking out and seeing his two colleagues almost immediately below him.
"I just believed they were taking cover from shots fired. I didn't know they had been shot," he said.
"I looked back in a northerly direction and I saw two males, who I believed to be Afghan Uniformed Police, running in a northerly direction. At no point did I believe they were involved in the shots that had been fired."
Similarly he thought the other Afghans chasing the two men were simply following them and heading in the direction the shots had come from.
He said: "There's a massive echo and you can't necessarily pinpoint where it is (the noise). It could have been outside the wall.
"All the threat was 1km to the north. I had no idea the shots came from within.
"I wasn't concentrating on looking at who was firing. I was concentrating on looking outwards and finding who they were shooting out."
The coroner asked him whether he had any idea what the reason for the shooting could have been.
"It's the easiest way for them (the Taliban) to get to us," he replied.
Asked if he thought the joking at the expense of the man who had apparently wet himself could have been the cause, he said he did not think so.
"We knew what we could say and what we couldn't. We knew how they would react, what buttons we could push," he said.
"With the rapport and friendship we had with them before this happened, we knew how far we could go.
"They're always keen to give the same back to us."
Mr Salter asked: "You don't think it was related to that?"
"Definitely not," replied Lance Corporal Price.
Members of the patrol, who would visit the compound at least three times a week, often daily, said they recognised some of the Afghans there but they had never seen the two gunmen before.
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