http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6266069.stm Inquest opens into soldier death A soldier accidentally shot himself when his gun went off as he rushed to catch a flight, an inquest has heard. Paul Didsbury, 18, originally from Blackpool, died of massive injuries from the point-blank range shot he sustained in Iraq in July 2005. He was stationed in Basra with the 21st Royal Signal Regiment. His friend, Lance Corporal Rory Gallagher, told Oxford Coroner's Court how Signalman Didsbury was shot while leaving for a mission outside the base. Signalman Didsbury was getting ready for a scheduled flight when he was told the departure time had been brought forward by an hour, the court heard. His kit was nearly ready but the young soldier, originally from Blackpool, was "a bit flustered" by the news, said L/Cpl Gallagher. L/Cpl Gallagher offered him a lift to the helipad in the unit Land Rover, but he told Oxfordshire Assistant Deputy Coroner Andrew Walker that he was not speeding and that they were not in a rush. Empty weapon He told how Signalman Didsbury collected his weapon from the armoury at the Basra air station base in July 2005 and the court also heard how soldiers would be given their weapons empty. But as they were travelling, L/Cpl Gallagher heard a shot and his friend started screaming. L/Cpl Gallagher told the court: "At first I thought he had just made a negligent discharge of the weapon and I told him not to worry, it happened to everybody. "But as I went round to his side of the vehicle he fell out to the floor and I realised he must be injured." Medics were unable to save the 18-year-old and according to pathologist Dr Nicolas Hunt, who carried out post-mortem tests, he could not have survived the wound. The court heard that the young soldier had loaded a round into the gun's chamber and had not secured the safety catch which would have stopped the gun going off. Mr Walker said that the impact of speed bumps in the road could have caused the gun's working parts to move, which could have resulted in the chamber being loaded. But he could not say how the gun's trigger had come to be pulled and the shot fired. The court also heard that although Signalman Didsbury had passed tests of his weapon-handling skills, he had later failed an annual marksmanship test. Forces investigator Sergeant Shaun Roberts said it was usual practice for a soldier not to have been deployed until those tests were completed. The hearing is expected to last five days. ___ Whilst I won't say more as the inquest is still ongoing, there are clearly going to be many lessons to be learned from this tragic sequence of events. My thoughts go to the family at what must be a difficult time.