RAF sniper Ryan Tomlin suffered a single shot to the head that would have killed him almost instantly, an inquest heard.
The 21-year-old, from Hemel Hempstead, was providing protection for a patrol that was building links with the local community in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when they came under fire.
Ryan was working with fellow 2 Squadron sniper Neil Hughes on February 13, 2012.
During the inquest into Ryan’s death this morning (Thursday) Herts coroner Edward Thomas said: “It would have caused devastating injuries, immediate unconsciousness and almost immediate death so he would not have been aware of what had happened. There was nothing anyone could have done to save him - nothing whatsoever.”
On the day of his death Ryan - a talented marksman - was providing cover for an ‘influence patrol’ led by Flight Lieutenant Dave Martin that was visiting different compounds in the northern Nad Ali district in Helmand Province. It was the airman’s second tour of Afghanistan.
Ryan and Neil had just moved away from a Jackal - a type of armoured vehicle - that they had been using to get a good vantage point when they came under machine gun fire.
Ryan, who was shot as he was making his way back to the Jackal, was attended to by a medic straight away and flown to a field hospital by helicopter but could not be saved.
Mr Thomas, who paid tribute to the actions of Ryan’s comrades on the day of his death, recorded a verdict that the former Astley Cooper schoolboy was unlawfully killed while he was on active service in Afghanistan.
He told Ryan’s parents, who attended the inquest with other family members: “Your son was a fine man.
“He died in active service for this country. He clearly was a young man who was a great asset to the armed forces and his death is a terrible tragedy.”