Soldier, born in Okehampton, was "unlawfully killed"
By PGStrange | Thursday, January 31, 2013, 13:39
A SOLDIER, born in Okehampton and who died in action in Afghanistan, was "unlawfully killed", a coroner has ruled. Speaking after yesterday's inquest, the mother of Corporal Michael Pike said her son was "everybody's hero"…
Corporal Michael Pike. Born in Okehampton, he was killed in action in Afghanistan in June 2011
Last year Corporal Pike's name was added to the war memorial at Okehampton's All Saints Parish Church
The inquest into Corporal Pike's death took place on 30 January at North Devon Magistrates' Court in Barnstaple.
Corporal Pike, 25, had been serving with the Highlanders, 4th Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Scotland. He was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2011.
The court heard that on 3 June 2011, Cpl Pike had been sent with his unit to Pupalzay, in the Lashkar Gah area of Helmand province, as part of an operation to prevent insurgents from "intimidating the local population". In charge of a Jackal vehicle during a patrol along Highway 601, he came under fire from rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. He was killed by a single shot to the head.
John Tomalin, the court's deputy coroner, recorded a verdict that Cpl Pike had been unlawfully killed while on active service.
After the inquest, Stuart Bramley, the family's solicitor, released a statement on their behalf.
"Perhaps the most notable evidence concerned the action Michael took as soon as his patrol came under attack," he said. "Rather than taking cover, his immediate response was to return fire, allowing his colleagues time to secure their own safety, but in doing so he suffered a single shot to the head. No one at the inquest could doubt that Michael Pike died a hero."
Lance Corporal Paul O'Neil, the gunner in Michael's vehicle, described him as "a brilliant soldier, one of the best I've ever worked with".
Brenda Pike said her son was "everybody's hero".
Talking to BBC's Spotlight after the inquest she said, "To wish him back would be a sin because he did what he had to do. We're really proud of him. He's a hero. He's my son, but he's everybody's hero."
Born in Okehampton, Michael grew up in Merton, North Devon, and lived in Huntly, Aberdeenshire. He joined up at 16 as a private. After a tour of Iraq, he first served in Helmand province in 2008. He was deployed to Afghanistan again in April 2011. Married, he had two children, Joshua and Evelyn, aged five and one when he died.
Michael's funeral took place in Merton in June 2011. This was followed by a special service for Michael, held last year in Okehampton, when his name was added to the town's war memorial at All Saints Parish Church.