Family don't want charge over war deaths

RELATIVES of a soldier killed alongside an Ipswich teenager in a friendly fire attack in Afghanistan have said they do not want an air controller charged over the triple death tragedy.

RELATIVES of a soldier killed alongside an Ipswich teenager in a friendly fire attack in Afghanistan have said they do not want an air controller charged over the triple death tragedy.

Private John Thrumble, 21, from Mayland, near Maldon, died alongside 19-year-old Aaron McClure, from Marlow Road, Ipswich, and Robert Foster 19, from Harlow, when an F-15 jet dropped a bomb on them while trying to end a Taliban ambush.

It was initially thought that it had been an American blunder which caused the tragedy last August, but it has now emerged the families of the dead soldiers have been told it could have been the error of a British air controller.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed an internal investigation by the Royal Military Police had been passed to defence chiefs.

If they consider there is enough evidence, the case will then be referred to the Independent Army Prosecuting Authority (APA).

But Pte Thrumble's mother, Pearl, said she did not want to see a prosecution for the “blue-on-blue” attack.

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Mrs Thrumble, 43, said: “We haven't got the actual final details yet but how can one man be responsible for a multi-million pound killing machine?

“As a mother who has lost her son nothing can compare. The grief of us losing our son is paramount, but this person (air controller) has a mother as well.”

Mrs Thrumble and husband Stephen said they did want change to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.

She said: “It's very hard to put into words how I feel. At the end of the day our family has lost a fantastic son and we wish it hadn't happened in the first place.”

The family of Pte McClure, who attended Westbourne High School in Ipswich, said they did not want to comment on the latest development.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed: “The Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch investigation into the deaths of three British soldiers on Thursday August 23, 2007 near Kajaki, Afghanistan, has concluded, and their report has been passed to the chain of command for their consideration.

“If the matter is referred to the independent Army Prosecuting Authority (APA), the APA will consider what, if any, action is to be taken, based upon the evidence and by applying normal prosecutorial tests.”

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