Major pays tribute to ‘top young leader’

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An officer who served alongside an Army captain killed by a bomb blast in Afghanistan has paid a moving tribute to his comrade’s selflessness and skill.

Major Paul Tingey told an inquest into the death of Captain Andrew Griffiths the officer had cared deeply for his men and was “one of the best young leaders” he had ever worked with.

Maj Tingey told the hearing in Sutton Coldfield yesterday how Capt Griffiths was mortally wounded by one of three separate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hidden in a rural compound while taking part in an operation to disrupt insurgents.

He told the inquest he felt privileged to have served with Capt Griffiths, 25, the son of serving Army Brigadier Mike Griffiths, in both Cyprus and in Afghanistan. “He cared deeply for the men he commanded – they trusted him implicitly and he trusted them. He didn’t demand respect, he earned it.”

Maj Tingey added: “He was one of the best young leaders that I have ever had the privilege of working with. If he had lived I have no doubt that he would have gone on to a very long and successful military career.”

Capt Griffiths was airlifted back to Britain after suffering severe leg and pelvic injuries in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province while serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment on August 24 last year.

The officer, who was born in Richmond, North Yorkshire, was treated at the scene and underwent surgery in Afghanistan, but died of his wounds on September 5, 2010.

Colonel Gareth Collett, of the Army’s explosive ordnance disposal unit, told Coroner Aidan Cotter on Thursday the devices had a low metal content and would not have been uncovered by a hand-held detector used by the troops.

Recording a verdict that Capt Griffiths was killed by the enemy whilst on active service for his country, Mr Cotter described the decision not to use metal detectors to scour the entire compound as “sensible and justified” given the circumstances. He said medical aid given at the scene had undoubtedly prevented Capt Griffiths from dying where he fell.