Mother pays tribute to ‘unlawfully killed’ soldier Darren Chant

A GRIEVING mother has paid tribute to her son after an inquest ruled he had been “unlawfully killed” by a rogue Afghan policeman while serving with the Grenadier Guards.

Warrant Officer Class 1 Darren Chant, 40, died with four other soldiers after the killer, known only as Gulbuddin, opened fire at an Afghan National Police (ANP) checkpoint in Nad-e-Ali in Helmand Province in November 2009.

He died with Grenadier Guards colleagues Sgt Matthew Telford, 37, and Guardsman Jimmy Major, 18, along with Royal Military Police officers Cpl Steven Boote, 22 and Cpl Nicholas Webster-Smith, 24.

Mr Chant’s mother Elizabeth, 61, of Perebrown Avenue, Great Yarmouth, said he had just been promoted to the rank of captain prior to his death.

She added: “The army and his children, they were the main things in his life and he was always doing exams – because he never wanted to come out of the army and if he did not get to captain he would have retired.

“Darren always used to say he could not do civilian life. The army was his life. He loved his job and always used to say it was a pleasure going into work and not many people could say that.”

Mother-of-four Ms Chant said the presence of more troops would have increased the chances of stopping Gulbuddin from carrying out his act.

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Families of three of the other soldiers also spoke out against the MoD, criticising the decision to allow the soldiers to work and live alongside members of the Afghan National Police, saying the Ministry of Defence had placed them in “such avoidable harm’s way”.

The inquest at Trowbridge heard as the troops were off duty, and none was wearing body armour, helmets or carrying weapons.

Ms Chant said her son lamented not being able to take his body armour off more often in the heat.

She added Mr Chant wrote to her about the ill-discipline of the Afghan police, who would disobey orders and regularly turned up high on drugs. Gulbuddin was said to have been a regular smoker of cannabis.

However, an MOD spokesman said excellent progress had been made in creating a security force which could take over policing when British troops pull out.

Mr Chant was born in Walthamstow, but moved with his family to Yarmouth while still a toddler and attended St George’s Infant School and Greenacre Middle School before moving to Luton to complete his schooling.

The keen sportsman and father-of-three joined the army after leaving school, though he often visited Yarmouth to see his mother.

Post-mortem examinations found all five died as a result of gunshot wounds and, with the exception of Cpl Webster-Smith, wearing body armour would not have saved them.