Barnsley soldier killed when fishing trip turned to tragedy, inquest hears

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A Barnsley soldier was killed when a fishing trip turned to tragedy in Northern Ireland, an inquest has heard.

Rifleman Dale Harris and Lance Corporal David Gwilt, from Bedford, died when their car failed to stop at a junction in Co Antrim and ploughed into a tractor driving on a main road, Belfast Coroner’s Court was told.

The 24-year-olds had been serving in the 2nd Battalion The Rifles, based at Thiepval barracks, Lisburn.

One of their colleagues, Rifleman Matthew Robins, managed to escape major injury in the collision on the Ballyconnelly Road, near Cullybackey in August 2014.

The inquest heard the friends had been fishing at two lakes and were on their way to find another spot to fish when the accident happened.

Jordan Marks, who was driving the tractor, said a silver Fiat Punto, being driven by L/Cpl Gwilt, came ‘flying out of the junction’ before colliding with the tractor and crashing into a road sign.

The two soldiers were declared dead at the scene despite the best efforts of a retired doctor and two off-duty nurses.

Rfn Robins said that none of the men were familiar with the roads in that part of County Antrim.

The inquest heard the road was clearly marked and the Fiat failed to stop at the junction.

A police sergeant told Coroner John Leckey there had been a ‘collision history’ at the junction and explained there was another side road directly opposite the road the soldiers were on – giving the impression of one continuing road.

Mr Leckey heard that Transport NI has agreed to introduce additional safety measures at the junction.

He said: “I always hope something will arise out of a tragedy that will improve matters and may prevent the occurrence of something similar.”

The deaths were recorded as being the result of a road crash.