Army widow's anger after inquest drops charges against US soldiers

The widow of an army captain killed by a forklift truck on a military base in Iraq said the US soldiers responsible must be “held accountable.”

Soldiers from the Black Watch, Royal Regiment of Scotland, at Al Asad base in 2018.
Soldiers from the Black Watch, Royal Regiment of Scotland, at Al Asad base in 2018.

Dean Sprouting, a father-of-two from Denny, near Falkirk, who served with the Black Watch, was hit by the vehicle while jogging at the Al Asad air base in January 2018.

The soldiers faced three charges including negligent homicide but an American Brigadier General ruled these be dropped.

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Linda Sprouting said it was as if her husband’s life “didn’t matter.”

British soldiers at Al Asad base in 2018.
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“The coroner had ruled it was an accident but it was close to unlawful killing."

Mrs Sprouting spoke out after the inquest coroner at a military inquest in Oxford last week concluded her husband’s death was accidental.

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She now wants meetings with the Ministry of Defence and Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The US had jurisdiction as to whether any prosecution was warranted over the incident.

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Mrs Sprouting said: “The coroner had ruled it was an accident but it was close to unlawful killing.

“But because he was bound by the legal procedures it didn’t fit one of the criteria, but it was very close.”

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A “totally avoidable accident.”

Mrs Sprouting said she accepted her husband’s death was an accident, but it was a “totally avoidable accident.”

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She said Capt Sprouting was following the bases’s designated running route stipulated by the US.

“[The soldiers] were transporting a container but the vehicles they chose were totally unsuitable for that procedure and with the distance they were travelling.”

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She said the windscreen wipers of the escort vehicle were stuck in the middle, obscuring the driver’s view.

Mrs Sprouting added: “There was no radio communication, no groundsman walking with them to direct them or give them any indication.

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“If you can’t protect our servicemen and women from foreign policies then we shouldn’t really be working with the US to protect our servicemen and women.

“To serve 27 years for Queen and country and do various operational tours of duty and then kind of be sidelined really, as if his life didn’t count for anything, didn’t matter.”

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A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Our deepest sympathies remain with the family and friends of Captain Dean Sprouting.

“When British forces are based overseas, either on UK or coalition bases, they come under strict policies and procedures to ensure any health and safety risks on base are mitigated and kept as low as possible.

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“We liaised closely with the US investigatory authorities throughout their investigation.”