UK & World News
Drunken Shooting: Soldier's Family Slam Probe
The family of a British soldier who died in a drunken shooting in Iraq have slammed the investigation into the circumstances of his death as "flawed" and "incompetent".
Lance Corporal David Wilson, who served in the Army Air Corps, was found slumped at a desk at Basra airbase with a gunshot wound to his head in December 2008.
He had been drinking vodka - in breach of Army rules - with his friend and superior Warrant Officer Tony Todd in the hours before he died.
Tests after his death showed he was three times over the drink-drive limit.
The soldier's father, Ian Wilson, told the inquest in Crook, County Durham, his son had become a father 11 weeks before to baby Poppy, and was an upbeat character with everything to live for.
His family do not believe he deliberately shot himself, and believe horseplay or an accident could have been the cause.
Andrew Tweddle, coroner for South Durham and Darlington, returned an open verdict at his inquest on Wednesday - four years after proceedings initially opened.
He said there was insufficient evidence to return a suicide verdict, saying that while he found the soldier fired the fatal shot himself, he "was intoxicated and this would have had an effect on his decision-making ability and perception of risk".
The soldier's identical twin brother Michael Wilson said after the verdict: "From start to finish this has been a flawed process.
"From the discovery of David's body there has been an incompetent crime scene investigation followed by at best a sub-standard attempt by the Ministry of Defence to consider possible causes of David's death in circumstances where those directing the investigation wrongly closed their minds to there being anything other than one possible explanation.
"We as a family have been wronged by flawed processes. Those responsible include not just the MoD, but also the court.
"We're appalled that the coroner had to seize the initiative to write to the Prime Minister to ignite the investigation process further."
The inquest heard how military police investigators botched elements of the inquiry.
Concerns about the handling of forensic evidence were raised during the case, with William Boyce QC, for the family, describing elements of the inquiry as "a circus".
There was also criticism from the coroner, who apologised for the delay in bringing the inquest to court, and revealed he was so concerned about the "painfully slow" progress of the case he wrote to David Cameron in November 2011.
L/Cpl Wilson lived with his fiancee Michelle Curry in Spennymoor, County Durham, while he served at RAF Dishforth in North Yorkshire.