Barrister points gun at own head during inquest into County Durham soldier's death

8:27pm Tuesday 26th February 2013

By Ian Noble

A BARRISTER held a gun to his own head at the inquest into the death of a County Durham soldier.

In an extraordinary scene, William Boyce, QC, sought to reenact the incident that led to the death of Lance Corporal David Wilson.

L Cpl Wilson, 27, and from Spennymoor, was found slumped over a desk at Basra airbase in Iraq in December 2008, the morning after an illicit drinking session.

He died from a single gunshot wound to the head - a 9mm Browning pistol being found nearby.

As the inquest in Crook continued today (Tuesday, February 26), 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.

It was at this point that Mr Boyce, who represents L Cpl Wilson's family, produced the dead man's pistol, it having been checked by a firearms expert beforehand.

In front of family members, he pressed the gun against his head to show how awkward it would have been for the soldier to have shot himself.

"To have made this shot his hand would have been bent back on itself, he said.

"If he was going to shoot himself in the head there are easier shots to do it with than the one that seems to have killed him."

The inquest went on to hear that the Army forbade any spirits on the base and soldiers were only allowed two cans of lager at official functions.

But tests showed that L Cpl Wilson had 229mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood in his system, nearly enough to be three times over the drink drive limit.

Warrant Officer 2, Anthony Todd, said he and L Cpl Wilson had drunk vodka.

"We were drinking together in my office the night that he died, he said. We had drunk together before, not to the extent that we did that night.

"We shared 300ml of vodka. We were merry and tipsy, but we weren't drunk.

"We went outside for a cigarette, but then he said he had to go back in for something and I left him and went to my accommodation."

He said he was told of the death of L Cpl Wilson several hours later.

WO2 Todd refuted claims that he had told people at a wake that L Cpl Wilson had accidentally shot himself or that there had been an alcohol-fueled accident.

The inquest concludes tomorrow (Wednesday, February 27).

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