A SOLDIER who died after being shot in the head at a British Army base in Iraq may have died in a freak accident, an inquest  heard yesterday.

Lance corporal David Wilson, 27, of Spennymoor, County Durham, was found dead at the British Army base in Basra  on December 4, 2008.

He was found by colleagues slumped over a table with head injuries and a Browning 9mm gun near to his hands.

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A small bullet sized indentation was found in the roof and the bullet casing was later found.

Coroner Andrew Tweddle, sitting in Crook, County Durham, heard claims that L Cpl Wilson may have fired a bullet which richocheted off the roof and killed him.

The hearing was told that L Cpl Wilson, who had recently become a father, was cheerful and reliable and that suicide would be out of character.

It also heard that L Cpl Wilson had enough alcohol in his bloodstream to be three times over the drink drive limit when he died.

Brenda Trotter, a family friend of L Cpl Wilson, said: “I was at the wake after his funeral and I asked one of his Army colleagues if the Iraqis had killed him.

“He said no. He said there had been four of them drinking and something had happened which should not have happened.

“I was stunned and gobsmacked when he told me this.”

Michelle Stephenson, Mrs Trotter’s daughter, told the inquest that she had heard a similar statement made at the wake by one of L Cpl Wilson’s colleagues.

Adam Oliver, a former Army signalman, was also at the wake.

He said: “One of his Army friends said they were messing about. He said L Cpl Wilson fired a shot that bounced off the roof and then hit him in the back of the head.”

Military comrades of L Cpl Wilson, who was serving in Iraq with 9 Regiment Army Air Corps, said he was a cheerful and that suicide was out of character.

L Cpl Amanda Walker said: “He had people to go to if he felt down but I never saw him down. He was upbeat and very positive about a new job in the Army he was to start.”

L Cpl Wilson was found by Warrant Officer 2 Ian Fowler as he headed to work at 9am. He said: “I thought he was asleep at the table and I shouted at him to wake up. I bent over and saw his head wound and it was blatantly obvious he was dead.

“It was totally out of character for him to have shot himself.

“He was in my office watching TV then night before he died and he would get cokes from the fridge.”

He denied claims made in the inquest by William Boyce QC, on behalf of L Cpl Wilson’s family that the soldier had drunk vodka in the office the night before he died.

He said: “I had absolutely no reason to believe he had alcohol in his system the night before he died. I did not see him under the influence of alcohol.

“There was no alcohol in the building that night to my knowledge.”

He did add that L Cpl Wilson had once given him a cup of unknown spirit mixed with coke and that he most likely knew how to access alcohol.

L Cpl Wilson and his fiancé Michelle Curry had become parents 11 weeks before his death with the birth of their daughter Poppy.

The soldier’s deployment to Iraq had been delayed so he could attend the birth. The inquest continues tomorrow. (Tuesday, February 26)

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