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Army chief 'appalled' by deaths.

A MERSEYSIDE soldier, killed in Afghanistan by a rogue policeman, would have died even if he had been wearing body armour.

An inquest into the deaths of Corporal Steven Boote, 22, from Prenton, and four colleagues heard they all died from gunshot wounds.

When the troops were killed, they were not wearing their body armour or helmets - but the inquest was told it was not compulsory for soldiers to wear their equipment while off duty.

Ballistic expert Alan Hepper said the body armour would have prevented a soldier's chest injury but a helmet would not have prevented a head wound.

He stated Cpl Boote would not have survived his injuries.

The most senior British Army officer in Afghanistan, Brigadier James Cowan, said the killings were the most shocking incident during his tour of the country.

Cpl Boote, Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, 40, Sergeant Matthew Telford, 37, and Guardsman Jimmy Major, 18, from the Grenadier Guards and Corporal Nicholas Webster-Smith, 24, from the Royal Military Police, were gunned down on November 3, 2009, in the Nad-e-Ali district of Helmand Province.

Brigadier Cowan, who was in command of Herrick 11, told the inquest: "I viewed the incident as appalling and I was deeply shocked.

"During the course of my tour, 64 soldiers were killed, but this was the single most shocking incident."

However, the Brigadier said that the deaths of the five troops had given him the leverage to get the Afghan authorities to overhaul the ANP, which was rife with drug taking, ill-discipline, insubordination and corruption.

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GUNNED DOWN: Corporal Steven Boote
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 20, 2011
Words:264
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