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Faulty goggles caused soldier's tragic death

PUBLISHED: 09:15 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 16:02 25 August 2010

TRAGIC: Lance Corporal Jake Alderton was killed in accident while serving for the British Army.

TRAGIC: Lance Corporal Jake Alderton was killed in accident while serving for the British Army.

A MOTHER of a soldier killed on duty in Afghanistan said her son s death was an awful, avoidable tragedy.

A MOTHER of a soldier killed on duty in Afghanistan said her son's death was an awful, avoidable tragedy.

Lance Corporal Jake Alderton, 22, of Lady Smith Road, Eltham, drowned in November 2007 because his vehicle was being driven at night by a comrade wearing "ineffective" night vision goggles.

Southwark Coroners Court heard last Monday that the Royal Engineer, who was manning a gun atop a Pinzgauer truck, was trapped underneath his vehicle when it rolled off a bridge through the darkness and into three feet of water.

Hearing that his driver was not properly trained to use the goggles and that the convoy had crashed a number of times already has left LCpl Alderton's parents angry with the Ministry of Defence.

His mother, Lesley Alderton, said: "I probably could have taken it on board better if it had been the enemy but it is hard when it is someone at the top who was supposed to be providing them with equipment."

LCpl Alderton's convoy was effectively driving blind in an attempt to remain undetected whilst heading to an assault near Sanguin, in Helmand Province.

At the inquest the sapper's comrades gave accounts of the accident and Coroner Andrew Walker heard that it would have been hard for the driver, Corporal Milan Rai who survived, to even see out of the windscreen due to light coming from his cab.

Mrs Alderton, 52, said: "It was just awful to see these young lads reliving it.

"They have to live with it for the rest of their lives - they are victims as well.

"British Army soldiers are the best because they are known to improvise, but just because they can, it doesn't mean they should have to.

"If they had had the best equipment, it probably would never have happened."

Six days before his accident, LCpl Alderton told his mother that his American allies were much better equipped than the British Army.

Since his death, Keith and Lesley Alderton have raised money for the Help the Heroes charity for ex-service personnel, including a raffle and pub night last June.

For more information about Help the Heroes call 0845 673 1760 or visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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