Soldier who killed Lance Corporal James Brynin will ‘forever have blood on his hands’, say family

James Brynin's parents Sharon and Efrem Brynin arrive for the inquest at Arundel Town Hall on January 16, 2017. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

James Brynin's parents Sharon and Efrem Brynin arrive for the inquest at Arundel Town Hall on January 16, 2017. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

The family of Lance Corporal James Brynin have expressed their ‘disappointment’ that the soldier who shot and killed him while on duty will face ‘no charges or punishment’ for his death.

Speaking for his family following an inquest in which a narrative verdict was returned, Efrem Brynin said Lance Corporal of Horse Mark Kelly, who shot his son while on tour in Afghanistan, would ‘forever have James’ blood on his hands’.

Lance Corporal James Brynin from Pulborough was killed in action in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in 2013

Lance Corporal James Brynin from Pulborough was killed in action in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in 2013

The inquest into the friendly fire incident in October 2013 was concluded today, Tuesday, January 17 in Arundel, after a services investigation found there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge LCoH Kelly with a homicide offence.

West Sussex senior coroner Penelope Schofield ruled that his death was not unlawful killing because she held that LCoH Kelly genuinely believed he was firing on an enemy.

Mr Brynin, from Pulborough, was also deeply critical of the Ministry of Defence, which he said had only apologised to the family in the last few weeks.

He said: “We are very upset and disappointed that having waited so long for this lengthy process to conclude, that no charges or punishment and no genuine guilt has been acknowledged by the MoD or LCoH Kelly.

“It is, and has always been our opinion, that Kelly knew what he had done within moments of firing the round that killed our son James.

“Rather than acknowledging he did wrong, he instead chose to step back.

“The simple fact remains that his errors led directly to our son’s death; he has and will forever have James’ blood on his hands.

“We have been dismayed at the lack of empathy and respect shown to us by the various facets of the MoD, who have aggressively sought to challenge us, forgetting their fallen colleague and the duty of care that they owed him.

“Whilst we have finally in the last few weeks received an apology for the way we have been treated, that was far too long in coming.

“It seems incredible to us that we should have to speak out for our dead son whilst the MoD has sought to excuse itself of any wrongdoing.”

West Sussex senior coroner Penelope Schofield today returned a narrative verdict, finding that LCpl Brynin died as a result of small arms fire from another British soldier, who had ‘not taken sufficient care’.

Ms Schofield followed the verdict with criticism of the Ministry of Defence’s ‘complete lack of empathy and effective communication with the family’ during the process, which has caused ‘distrust and distress’.

Ms Schofield will file a formal letter of concern regarding the treatment of the family by the MoD.

“This family deserved better,” she said.

“The army can never make it better for a family when they lose someone, but they can not make it worse.”

Read more here: Soldier who shot Sussex comrade in Afghanistan will not be prosecuted

The Brynin family’s statement in full:

“We are very upset and disappointed that having waited so long for this lengthy process to conclude, that no charges or punishment and no genuine guilt has been acknowledged by the MoD or L/CoH Kelly.

“It is, and has always been our opinion, that Kelly knew what he had done within moments of firing the round that killed our son James.

“Rather than acknowledging he did wrong, he instead chose to step back.

“The simple fact remains that his errors led directly to our son’s death; he has and will forever have James’ blood on his hands.

“We have been dismayed at the lack of empathy and respect shown to us by the various facets of the MoD, who have aggressively sought to challenge us, forgetting their fallen colleague and the duty of care that they owed him

“Whilst we have finally in the last few weeks received an apology for the way we have been treated, that was far too long in coming.

“It seems incredible to us that we should have to speak out for our dead son whilst the MoD has sought to excuse itself of any wrongdoing.

“Despite this, we have continued to conduct ourselves as James would have expected; with dignity and courage.

“It is difficult to describe the impact that losing James has had on all of our lives.

“There are few words which can adequately portray the sense of loss to us.

“As parents, we have lost our son, our daughter has lost her protector and only sibling, his girlfriend the love of her life.

“James impacted everyone that he met, his enthusiasm, positive nature, sheer determination and strength are just a few of his unique qualities.

“James lived his life with complete honesty and integrity, his final act one of immense courage, which saved the lives of those around him.

“We would like to thank those who have supported and helped us through this process and in particular Hilary Meredith Solicitors, our barrister Tom Coke-Smyth, the Royal British Legion as well as James’ many colleagues.

“In addition to this, we would like to thank Her Majesty’s Senior Coroner, Ms Schofield, who has always acted with great respect and dignity towards us.

“I would like to finish by saying that being James’ parents has been the greatest honour imaginable, although we miss him every moment of every day, we are grateful that we raised such a capable man, who achieved so much and touched so many in such a short period of time.

Thank you.”

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