Marine killed by ‘friendly fire’

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An investigation into the death of a Royal Marine from 45 Commando has revealed he was killed by ‘friendly fire’ in an incident in Afghanistan in January 2009.

Corporal Danny Winter was hit by an anti-tank missile attack ordered by their Danish counterparts, it was heard at an inquest in Salisbury.

Captain Tom Sawyer, of the Royal Artillery also died in the incident where the two men were on a rooftop providing fire support for an operation 
clearing Taliban compounds.

Two other members of the patrol were injured in the explosion which happened on the evening of 
January 14, 2009.

Coroner David Ridley said that the fatal missile had been fired by Gurkhas under a Danish lieutenant’s orders.

British forces were involved in a joint operation with a 
Danish battle group, who declined to attend the inquest instead giving evidence via witness statements.

Major Robert Taylor, chief instructor in Javelin training for the anti-tank division at Warminster at the time of the incident, told the inquest: “Javelin in Afghanistan offered new opportunities for it to be used in a way it hadn’t been used before in pin-pointing people because it was 
so accurate.

“Only the person firing the weapon can see what he is looking at and the commander cannot look at what the firer is about to fire at.”

Maj Taylor added that the Danish officer who ordered the firing would not have been trained in the use of 
the weapon.

Cpl Winter, 28, from Stockport, was a specialist mortar fire controller and was serving in Helmand province with the mortar troop of Zulu Company, 45 Commando Royal Marines.

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Morris, Commanding Officer, 45 Commando Group, said: “Corporal Danny Winter was an exceptional Royal Marine, Mortarman and Non-Commissioned Officer with a big future ahead of him.”

Sergeant G T C Jones, 
RM said: “Corporal Danny Winter was one of the most 
professional mortar men ever to pick up a set of binoculars and a compass. He was a man’s man, who always had time for you and especially his lovely girlfriend Amanda.

“Danny had a strong character, was calm under pressure and had the heart of a lion which enabled him to offer advice to friends and family and company commanders.

“He always led by example and was looked up to by the younger Marines. He was especially well respected in the world of Royal Marines mortars, and he was immensely popular in Arbroath.”

The inquest is expected to last for two weeks.