29/11/2007

VC Para Killed By Own Side

A soldier killed in Afghanistan – and later awarded a posthumous awarded Victoria Cross – may have died from a bullet fired from his own side.

Corporal Bryan Budd, of the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment died in August 2006 after being shot in the abdomen during a fierce firefight in Sangin, Helmand Province.

The inquest into his death in Oxford was told this week that Cpl Budd, 29, from Ripon, North Yorkshire, had also spearheaded an attack on an enemy position a month before his death, allowing a wounded colleague to be evacuated for life-saving treatment.

The Assistant Deputy Coroner for Oxfordshire, Andrew Walker, heard that tests on fragments of the bullet which killed Cpl Budd showed it was likely to have been fired from a Nato weapon.

Ballistics expert Ed Wallace told the court that tests of 24 weapons used by Cpl Budd's comrades had failed to establish if any of them had fired the fatal shot.

But Mr Wallace said tests on two bullet fragments had established that they were from 5.56 calibre ammunition, which is used in rifles and machine guns issued to British troops.

The posthumous award of the Victoria Cross - Britain's highest award for military bravery - to Cpl Budd was the first for almost a quarter of a century.

(BMcC/JM)

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