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29 January 2013, 17:38
An inquest into the death of a Middlesbrough soldier in Afghanistan has heard safety improvements to their operating base came too late.
Safety improvements should have been made to an Afghanistan war base before two soldiers were killed, their colleagues told an inquest.
Lance Corporal Neil Mackie and Private James Gosling said improvements that were made after the deaths of their colleagues should have been made sooner.
The men appeared at the joint inquest into the deaths of 32 year old Corporal Andrew Roberts from Middlesbrough and Private Ratu Manasa Silibarav.
The two were killed by enemy mortar fire while inside the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ouellette in the northern part of Nahr-e-Saraj district in Helmand province on May 4th last year.
The victims, attached to 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh Battlegroup, died from horrific injuries after the mortar crashed near a tented zone where the men had an outdoors 9am briefing on mental health.
L/cpl Mackie told the coroner Darren Salter that the FOB had previously been attacked by insurgents but after the men's deaths improvements were made which he was struck by when he returned to FOB Ouellette several months later.
"I can honestly say the developments that took place between that incident and seven months later were astounding - it should have happened earlier.
The protection near the tented accommodation was unsatisfactory.
The nearest hard cover was a fair distance away.''
A verdict of unlawful killing on active service was recorded.