A BRITISH soldier who died in a shooting at an airbase in Iraq would have been almost three times over the drink-drive limit, an inquest heard today.
Lance Corporal David Wilson, 27, was found slumped over a desk at the Basra base in December 2008 the morning after an illicit drinking session, the coroner has heard.
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".
But witnesses have told the inquest in Crook, County Durham, that a soldier told them at the wake "something happened that shouldn't have happened" while four of them were drinking.
Forensic pathologist Nicholas Hunt said the gunshot passed from above the right temple, back through the brain and out of the left side towards the back of the head.
The pistol muzzle was pressed against the skull, he said, ruling out the possibility of fatal injury being caused by a ricochet from a shot fired by accident.
Tests afterwards showed he had 229mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in his system. The drink-drive limit is 80mg.
In an extraordinary scene William Boyce QC, representing the family, produced the weapon L/Cpl Wilson apparently used to shoot himself, and pointed it at his own head.
As the dead soldier's fiancee Michelle, his father Ian and identical twin Michael watched, Mr Boyce demonstrated that the angle of the rounds trajectory meant the weapon must have been pointed at an awkward angle for someone intending to shoot himself.
The black Browning 9mm was checked by a firearms expert before Mr Boyce demonstrated it in court.
Friends have said L/Cpl Wilson, who was from Spennymoor, County Durham, and born in Huddersfield, had everything to live for, having seen his daughter Poppy born 11 weeks before he died.
Soldiers on the airbase were only allowed to drink two cans of beer, and that was limited to rare, formal functions, the hearing has heard.
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