Relatives Instruct Military Lawyers To Help Establish Answers
The family of a British soldier who died during an anti-poaching exercise have spoken out after a service inquiry report into his death was published.
In May 2019, Guardsman Mathew Talbot, aged 22, of 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, was attacked by an elephant whilst on an operational, anti-poaching deployment in Liwonde National Park, Malawi. He died following his injuries.
Following his death Mathew’s family, of Great Barr, Birmingham, instructed specialist military accident lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help investigate and provide them with answers regarding the circumstances surrounding his death.
The legal experts have vast experience of providing support to both injured service personnel and the families of those who have lost their lives during situations including training exercises.
Mathew’s family have now spoken of their loss. It comes after the Ministry of Defence has today released its Service Inquiry report into the circumstances surrounding Mathew’s death, and made recommendations for action to prevent further, similar accidents from taking place in the future.
In a statement released via their legal team at Irwin Mitchell Mathew’s parents, Steven and Michelle Talbot, said: “We do not have the words to convey just how proud we are of our precious son Matt. This journey we find ourselves on is every parent’s worst nightmare.
“He was such a caring big brother to his sisters Aimee and Isabel, he was so proud of them both and he was always making plans with his girlfriend Olivia for their future together. We all feel his loss every day and miss him so very much.
“None of our lives will ever be the same without our beloved Matt but we take solace in knowing he was fulfilling two of his childhood dreams; one to be a soldier which he was immensely proud of achieving, and secondly, he was so happy to have been chosen to go to Malawi and take part in such an honourable task helping to protect our wildlife, especially elephants as they held a special place in his heart.
“We all knew just how dangerous it was in Malawi and we never underestimated that Matt was a soldier and the many risks attached to his occupation. However, we thought that The Army would always put the safety of their soldiers first and have a robust medical plan in place if anything occurred.
“It took nearly 10 months before we were to get any of the answers to questions, such as why was Matt not airlifted out as soon as they knew how seriously he was injured? Why were service personnel not allowed to use their weapons to fire warning shots? Why did they not send the company paramedic to Matt as he had life saving drugs and equipment and was vastly experienced in saving lives? It was some three-plus hours before the paramedic saw Matt and by then he had started to deteriorate.
“The combat medics who were with Matt did the best they could do with limited resources that were available to them but Matt had been conscious throughout. He had to endure an awful journey in the back of what we consider to be a tin can of an Army Land Rover. Being bounced around on the floor along with the medics must have been a horrific journey and Matt had to endure this with no pain relief which was so hard to hear.
“We were told that when Ministry of Defence carried out the service inquiry they chose not to call this vehicle an ambulance as it was nothing of the kind. We were shocked and saddened when we saw the picture in the service inquiry report showing the LR130 and then showing the vehicle that should have been there a Toyota Land Cruiser Ambulance. We still do not know why this wasn’t in place.
“When Matt passed away it was four hours and 17 minutes after the attack and it would have taken at least another three hours to get to the hospital in Blantyre. Those that are responsible for putting these risk assessments in place should hold their heads in shame if they think this is adequate for our brave serving soldiers who are prepared to put their lives on the line for Queen and Country.
“This is not just about justice for Matt but also the lives of all the other brave soldiers, as we do not want other families to go through this.”
Expert Opinion“This is a terrible time for Mathew’s family as they continue to come to terms with his death and the circumstances surrounding it.
“The service inquiry has identified worrying issues in the lead up to Mathew’s death which understandably have upset his family.
“It’s vital that the fullest and most transparent investigation continues to be held so all lessons possible can be learned from Mathew’s death to prevent further incidents of this nature happening again.
“We will continue to support Mathew’s family throughout the inquest and are determined to provide them with the answers they deserve.” Andrew Buckham - Partner
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