A marine who was killed in Afghanistan and left £100,000 to his friends was yesterday described at an inquest as “the life and soul of any situation he was in”.
David Hart, from Poppleton, York, died following a bomb blast in Sangin, southern Afghanistan, on July 6 2010, the day before his 24th birthday, York Coroner’s Court sitting at New Earswick Folk Hall heard.
The serviceman, from 40 Commando, had stipulated in a letter that a portion of a £250,000 life insurance policy he took out before his deployment should be used for 32 of his friends to travel to Las Vegas, his family has confirmed.
Marine Hart’s friends went on that holiday last summer, and one of his colleagues paid tribute to him at the inquest.
Sergeant Damien O’Sullivan, 40 Commando, told the court: “He was one of the most professional people I ever met. He had a bright future ahead of him.
“He was the life and soul of any situation he as in and he was loved and respected by everyone in the police mentoring group.”
The court heard that Marine Hart, who was part of a team training Afghan police, was on a joint foot patrol with 10 British soldiers and 13 Afghan soldiers.
They were travelling in an “Afghan snake”, a single file line with the Afghan soldiers up ahead.
Three metal detectors were being used to clear a path but nothing was found until the explosion that killed Marine Hart.
Sgt O’Sullivan said: “There was nothing on that day that led us to believe that there was any particular threat. That day was no different to any other day.
“As the Afghans were moving up the hill there was an explosion that I didn’t feel was particularly loud and a large plume of dust flew in the air.”
British soldiers cleared a path to Marine Hart, who had serious injuries from the waist down, and began to administer first aid.
He was taken to receive treatment at a nearby base by military vehicles but later died.
Pathologist Nicholas Hunt, in a written statement, said the cause of death was “blast injuries caused by an explosion”.
Coroner Donald Coverdale said: “Quite a number of Afghan and British soldiers walked across this spot. Unfortunately Marine David Hart walked across it and it was his footstep that triggered the IED (improvised explosive device).”
He recorded a verdict as: “David Hart died from injuries inflicted by an exploding IED while on active service in Afghanistan.”
The coroner told Marine Hart’s family: “He was a well-loved, well-liked and competent soldier.”