Army dog handler unlawfully killed in Afghanistan - inquest rules

L/Cpl Liam Tasker with Theo
L/Cpl Liam Tasker with Theo
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AN inquest into the death of a dog handler who died in Afghanistan has ruled he was unlawfully killed.

L/Cpl Liam Tasker, 26, from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, was shot by insurgents on March 1, while on patrol with his springer spaniel dog Theo.

The inquest heard L/Cpl Tasker, who came from Kirkcaldy in Fife and was based at St George’s Barracks in North Luffenham, was attached to 2 Company, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, as part of a mission to secure an area near the village of Shingazi.

The inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, heard four teams had left an operating base as part of the mission. L/Cpl Tasker’s team came under fire from insurgents about an hour-and-a-half later.

The inquest heard the soldiers “hit the floor” but L/Cpl Tasker was seen to fall to the ground, on top of his weapon. He had been shot in the head.

When medics went to help L/Cpl Tasker, Theo’s lead had to be cut so they could provide medical attention.

Theo, who had been running around, was caught and taken back to the base where he started having fits.

L/Cpl Tasker and Theo were airlifted to Camp Bastion for treatment. The dog died less than 10 hours after L/Cpl Tasker.

Capt Charles Allman-Brown, who was leading the team, told the inquest that during the early stages of the patrol they had encountered what they thought might be an improvised explosive device and had started to move around it when the shooting started.

Maj Ian Turner, officer commanding No 2 Company, 1st Battalion Irish Guards, said he was “confident Liam and his dog were on top of their game”, saying he was told they were the “best team” the Army had to offer.

L/Cpl Tasker’s family were at the inquest to hear the coroner record a verdict of unlawful killing.