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7 April 2012, 07:35
An inquest's heard a Darlington soldier was shot dead by insurgents while helping Afghan police officers to pray.
33 year old Lance Corporal Jonathan McKinlay was shot through the neck while on patrol with the 1st Battalion The Rifles in Helmand in September last year.
Members of his family attending the inquest in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, heard how the Darlington-born soldier's injuries were "non-survivable'', despite the efforts of comrades who tried to reach him while under heavy fire from the enemy.
L/Cpl McKinlay was one of 12 British servicemen accompanied by three Afghan National Police and an interpreter who were on patrol from Checkpoint Chaabak in the Narh-e-Saraj area.
The group were around 90 minutes into the patrol and had stopped in a garden having changed route to avoid a potential ambush point ahead.
Navy Medic Stuart Freeman, who was attached to The Rifles at the time, said L/Cpl McKinlay was in a field with the Afghan police, who had decided to pray.
He was trying to help them find out which way to pray. Moments later the group came under heavy fire from two points, said Serjeant Christopher Wainwright.
"I crawled forward into a ditch about 1m in front of me. I dropped into the ditch.''
The soldier was comforted by his dead comrade's mother Valerie as he fought his emotions while giving evidence.
He explained how, satisfied the men behind him were all right, he turned and saw L/Cpl McKinlay lying out of a ditch. As the firing raged from both sides, it was not possible to reach him for around six to seven minutes. By the time Leading Medical Assistant Freeman could reach him, there was no sign of life.
Pathologist Dr Russell Delaney found later that he died from a "non-survivable'' gunshot wound to the neck, which would have rendered him almost instantly unconscious.
Mr Tweddle read from the pathologist's report: "It follows that there was nothing his colleagues or combat mates could have done to save his life.''
The father-of-three had also served in Northern Ireland and Iraq. He leaves behind his wife Lisa, sister Becca, daughter Megan and stepchildren Ollie and Piper.