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Inquest opens into death of former Norfolk journalist

PUBLISHED: 16:00 15 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:29 02 July 2010

Rupert Hamer.

Rupert Hamer.

Sarah Brealey

The body of a former Norfolk journalist killed in an explosion in Afghanistan was released for burial today after his inquest opened.

Former EDP reporter and Sunday Mirror defence correspondent Rupert Hamer was the first British journalist to die in the conflict.

The body of a former Norfolk journalist killed in an explosion in Afghanistan was released for burial today after his inquest opened.

Former EDP reporter and Sunday Mirror defence correspondent Rupert Hamer was the first British journalist to die in the conflict.

Mr Hamer, 39, and the newspaper's photographer Phil Coburn, 43, fell victim to an improvised explosive device on January 9 while embedded with US Marines.

Mr Hamer died of his wounds at the scene north west of Nawa in Helmand province and Mr Coburn suffered serious injuries.

At the opening of the inquest today in Salisbury, Wiltshire, coroner's officer Ken Evill read out a statement about Mr Hamer's death.

He said: “At 14.30 on Saturday January 9 information was received by the UK Special Investigation Branch in Afghanistan from the hospital in Camp Bastion that Rupert James Hamer had been killed in an IED explosion.

“It would appear that at about 11.55 hours that day, whilst embedded with the 1st Battalion 3rd US Marine Corps, he was travelling in a US MRAP (mine resistant ambush protected) vehicle in the vicinity of Nawa province when it was apparently struck by an IED.

“As a result of the explosion, Rupert Hamer suffered severe injuries to his lower body and a head wound.

“In addition, a US soldier suffered fatal injuries and a further four marines suffered blast injuries.

“Mr Hamer was subsequently airlifted from the scene by the Camp Bastion US medical emergency response team to the hospital at Camp Bastion.”

Death was confirmed at 2.34pm, he said.

“Philip Coburn, another UK civilian journalist travelling in the same vehicle, was also injured,” he added.

A post-mortem examination on Mr Hamer showed an interim cause of death as multiple injuries in keeping with the effects of an explosion.

David Ridley, coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, adjourned the inquest until a date after July 19. Wiltshire Police will investigate the death on behalf of the coroner.

Mr Hamer's body was released to his family to carry out funeral arrangements. Mr Hamer, who was married to Helen, had three children, aged six, five and 19 months.

Mr Hamer, 39, attended Gresham's School in Holt, where he set up a newspaper for pupils, before joining the EDP. He worked as a runner and was then taken on as a trainee reporter.

Having passed his journalism proficiency exam, Hamer went to Leeds University and graduated in 1994 with a degree in politics.

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