A bomb disposal hero did not have equipment to detect a new Taliban device which killed him in Afghanistan, an inquest has heard.
Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid was posthumously awarded the George Cross for disarming 64 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in five months.
But on the last day before he was due to fly home to see his family, he triggered a pressure plate which had recently been developed by the Taliban as he disarmed his third set of explosives on that day alone in Sangin
The 30-year-old was hailed as “phenomenally great” and “a giant of a man” as his inquest in Truro came to a close.
Colonel Bob Seddon, Britain’s top bomb disposal officer who resigned last year, said it was a “constant battle” to keep up with new IEDs developed by the Taliban.
“With the equipment capability that Olaf had at the time, he would not have had the ability to detect a low metal content pressure plate,” Col Seddon told the hearing.
Cornwall coroner Dr Emma Carlyon heard that he had been “impatient” after a poignant phone call with his five-year-old stepson Laird the day before and “not his usual jovial self” on October 31, 2009.
But summing up evidence at Truro Coroner’s Court, she recorded: “There was nothing in the operation which fell below what might have been expected and that could have contributed to his death.”
Speaking after the inquest, the Army said it had moved as “quickly as possible” to develop technology to combat the “constantly changing” threat from insurgents.
Widow Christina was absent from the hearing after walking out on evidence midway through Wednesday’s session, but issued a written statement saying: “It is a deeply unsettling and traumatic process for myself, our families, friends and, of course, those members of his team. I will take the next few days to consider its findings in full.”