AN Army officer fought back tears yesterday at the inquest of a soldier who died of heatstroke in an Iraq “hellhole”.
The court was told air-conditioning units only arrived at the base two days after the death of Territorial Army Private Jason Smith, from Hawick in the Scottish Borders.
Pte Smith, 32, died in August 2003 in temperatures of more than 50C (122F) after repeatedly telling medics he felt ill.
He was found face down in the old athletics stadium where he was based and had suffered a cardiac arrest.
Sergeant Joseph Holmes described the stadium as a “dusty, overheated, hot hellhole”.
An inquest three years later recorded the death was caused by “a serious failure to recognise and take appropriate steps to address the difficulty he had in adjusting to the climate”. A second inquest was ordered in 2010 at the request of Pte Smith’s mother, Catherine.
On its first day yesterday, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Cattermull broke down as he told Oxford Coroner’s Court: “It was extremely hot, we were extremely busy, too busy, and we didn’t have enough resources.”
The inquest continues.
See on www.express.co.uk