British man killed in Ukraine 'saved lives', inquest told

A British man who died fighting in Ukraine saved the lives of other soldiers in his international unit before he was shot and killed, an inquest was told on Tuesday.

Jordan Gatley, 24, died on June 10 in the eastern city of Severodonetsk after handing in his notice to the British Army and joining an international unit of fighters in the weeks after the Russian invasion.

A "skilled rifleman", Gatley, had served as a lance corporal in The Rifles regiment based in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.

But after the war broke out, Gatley told his parents he was determined "to do whatever he could", his mother told Oxford Coroner's Court in a statement.

He was "adamant... he could help the people of Ukraine with his skills" and by early June, the former lance corporal and other international volunteers were in Severodonetsk, a target for heavy Russian shelling.

He was fatally shot in the head by a Russian sniper as he checked a bombed-out building for Ukrainian casualties.

A Russian tank was then prevented from firing on his colleagues after a fighter he had trained in anti-tank weaponry managed to deploy a weapon against it, his mother Sally Gatley added.

"They felt that Jordan ultimately saved everyone else's lives," she said.

- 'Nothing that could have been done' -

Another inquest held earlier on Tuesday was told that the first British volunteer to die in Ukraine was killed by mortar fire on April 22.

Scott Sibley, a 36-year-old former logistics specialist in the Royal Marines, was killed in the village of Lymany in the southern Mykolayiv region.

His fellow fighter, US citizen Gene "AJ" Smith was quoted as telling a British consular official that Sibley "was an excellent sniper" who spent three days in his foxhole.

A team came to relieve him on the third day, but a drone located them and moments later, the foxhole came under heavy artillery fire and Sibley ran towards the next dugout.

"As he was running, another mortar struck him, killing him instantly," senior coroner Darren Salter said.

A post-mortem at Oxford's John Radcliffe Hospital determined that the father of three daughters who had served in Afghanistan, suffered an "instant" death.

"There is nothing that could have been done to save his life," the coroner said.

- 'Active service' -

Sibley had served as a petroleum operator with the Britain's Logistic Support Squadron, Commando Logistic Regiment before leaving the army around five years ago and becoming a lorry driver.

His mother, Mary Sibley, said in a statement that her son "heard on the news about women and children being abused (in Ukraine), he wanted to help".

"Scott would do anything to help anyone," she said.

In April, a tribute on the Facebook page of his former squadron said he "showed Commando spirit until the end".

Senior coroner Darren Salter ruled that both men were "killed while on active service with the Ukrainian army".

The UK has also confirmed the deaths of medic Craig Mackintosh and ex-paratrooper Simon Lingard, who was killed near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine this month.

Coroner's inquests are held in England and Wales to try to establish the causes and circumstances of sudden or unexplained deaths based on the balance of probability.

They do not determine criminal or civil liability but set out facts in the public interest.

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