Inquest opens into death of British Soldier in Iraq

Soldier death inquest

24.11.2006

The inquest which has been delayed by over 3 years triggering a parliamentary enquiry starts on Monday 27th November into the death of a Royal Marine Major who died unexpectedly in March 2003 whilst serving out in Iraq. Stephen's death was purportedly from natural causes relating to a heart complaint.

Stephen Ballard (33) died only minutes after coming off duty on what had been an extremely long and intensely stressful day coordinating operations, whilst under persistent shelling. He was based at 3 Brigade HQs field location, near Az Zubyr, Iraq.

The Brigade was involved in combat operations securing the South Eastern flank of the British advance to Basra. Stephen collapsed suffering what is believed to have been a cardiac arrythmia. His cries alerted colleagues to his side but despite prolonged efforts he was pronounced dead.

However concerns have been raised by Sion Kingston the lawyer for the family from law firm Irwin Mitchell, who said "The family would like to know why the heart complaint was not detected either during routine medical examinations nor whilst Stephen was under close medical attention following a serious leg fracture only 6 months previously."

"Moreover we would also look for answers as to why he was deployed when, due to this injury, he was not fully combat fit and what effect, if any, the prophylactic drugs he took on deployment, had upon him."

Stephen leaves a Widow Lucy and a child, Connie (3). Lucy said "I simply want to know the truth. Why did my husband die when he did? I had grave concerns regarding his fitness and knew the stresses deployment would place on him. He was however a courageous man who wanted to serve with, and for his men. My eternal sadness is that he never met his daughter and she is growing up without her wonderful father."

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