Loved Ones Instruct Military Lawyers To Help Secure Answers And Support Them Through Inquest Process
The families of two Commonwealth recruits who died after taking part in trial runs for the British Army have spoken of their devastating losses following an inquest into their deaths.
Kamil Iddrisu, 25, and Youngson Nkhoma, 30, attended the Army Recruiting Group Assessment Centre in Lichfield on separate dates in November 2019 to participate in the common selection process.
Both men died following the physical assessment part of the selection process.
Kamil, a Commonwealth candidate from Ghana, took part in a timed 2km run at the assessment centre in Lichfield on 17 November, 2019. This was part of a role fitness test in the soldier selection process to join the British Army. Kamil became unwell around 400m from the finish line. He was transported to hospital by ambulance. His condition deteriorated and he passed away early the following morning.
Ten days later on 27 November, 2019, Youngson Nkhoma, a Commonwealth candidate from Malawi, took part in an identical 2km run at Lichfield where he collapsed approximately 200m from the finish line. He was taken to hospital, where he passed away that evening.
A three-week inquest in October heard that medical evidence later revealed both men had sickle cell trait, an inherited condition which is more common in people from certain ethnic backgrounds. Many who carry the sickle cell trait often do not experience problems or symptoms, but it can lead to those with it being at an increased risk of suffering from sickle cell disease. This can be triggered by overexertion or strenuous exercise, as well as cold temperatures, as detailed on the NHS website. This in turn, can lead to carriers from experiencing exertional collapse and ultimately rhabdomyolysis, a serious condition which involves the rapid dissolution of skeletal muscle.
During the inquest, the jury heard evidence from a number of witnesses from within the Ministry of Defence as well as medical experts.
The jury concluded that Kamil and Youngson died from the consequences of exertional rhabdomyolysis, which is defined as the breakdown of normal skeletal muscle fibres due to injury or exercise – due to sickle cell trait. The Coroner has also issued a Regulation 28 Report to Prevent Future Deaths.
It follows an extensive Service Inquiry Report which identified a number of contributory factors that led to the deaths of Kamil and Youngson. These included there was an insufficient medical screening process of those from Commonwealth countries, an inadequate accident reporting system which failed to escalate previous near-misses and serious injuries that had occurred before the pair collapsed and an absence of health technicians during the run. There was also inadequate training for staff in identifying those with conditions common to those Commonwealth countries, the report found.
The inquest also found that there was an inadequate screening process relating to sickle cell disease and sickle cell trait, and that the failure to test candidates to confirm their status “increases the risk of exertional collapse associated with sickle cell trait.”
The families instructed expert military accident solicitors at Irwin Mitchell to help secure answers and support them through the inquest process.
Expert Opinion“Almost three years on, Kamil and Youngson’s families remain devastated by their deaths which they’re still struggling to come to terms with.
Both men were young and deemed fit enough to take on the tests, which they had been looking forward to and spent many months preparing for. Sadly, they ended in tragedy, and their families have been living with so many unanswered questions since then.
The inquest has undoubtedly been tough for the families, having to relive everything again. While we cannot change what happened, we hope that they have been able to get the answers they deserve.
We also hope that the Ministry of Defence continues to strive to prevent anything like this from happening again.”
Stephanie Clark, Military Lawyer
A spokesperson for Kamil’s family said: “Losing Kamil so suddenly and then having to face the Inquest has been incredibly difficult for the family.
“He was only 25 and had his whole life ahead of him. He had been looking forward to trying out for The Army, but to think of how he must have suffered towards the end of the run is devastating.
“We thought we would be spending that evening celebrating Kamil passing the trial, but instead we were left reeling and heartbroken. To this day, we still struggle to accept he’s no longer here. All we hope for now is that by sharing what happened, no other family has to suffer like we have.”
A spokesperson for Youngson’s family said: “Youngson had been chatting about The Army for a long time and was excited about being invited to the selection process.
“When he collapsed just short of the finish line, it was a huge shock, but not for one minute did we expect to get told he had passed away. At that moment, our whole world changed and the grief has been overwhelming.
“Losing Youngson at such a young age was nothing short of traumatic and something we’ll never get over. But we’re grateful that the inquest has at least provided us with some answers. We just hope that no-one else will have to go through what we have; we wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.”