Prince Harry"s comrade killed himself after being made to clear IEDs while not fully qualified, inquest hears
A soldier who served with Prince Harry in Afghanistan killed himself after he was made to clear IEDs while not fully qualified, which has triggered calls by his former commander for an inquiry, an inquest heard.
Royal Engineer Nathan Hunt, 39, was decorated for his bravery after he successfully identified roadside bombs planted by the Taliban and protected the Duke of Sussex as part of a desert reconnaissance unit in Helmand province in 2008.
But his nerve-racking experiences on the battlefield triggered "nightmares" and struggles with his mental health, an inquest was told.
The Warrant Officer was found hanged at his home in Lincoln on January 2.
At his inquest on Thursday, WO Hunt"s former commander Deane Smith said he was not properly qualified to clear IEDs when he was first deployed to Afghanistan in 2008.
Mr Smith, 47, also told Lincoln Cathedral Centre his colleague was sent back to the warzone in 2009 despite showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.
The former search team commander has called for an investigation into the Household Cavalry Regiment, to which WO Hunt was attached.
Mr Smith, who left the Army in 2013, told the inquest engineers such as WO Hunt were not clear of their role.
He said: "In 2008 it was not just about battles, blood and bombs.
"I employed Mr Hunt illegally as an IED clearer, he was not qualified.
"That command pressure has got blood on their hands until today.
"The Household Cavalry Regiment should be investigated."
WO Hunt"s widow Lainey Hunt, a Warrant Officer with 32 Engineer Regiment, said commanders should have known that he was not fully qualified to clear IEDs.
In an emotional statement, which she read at the inquest, Mrs Hunt said: "The chain of command at the Household Cavalry should have known he was not fully qualified for this job."
Army records showed WO Hunt had suffered with dark moods earlier in his career but Mrs Hunt told the inquest she saw a change in her husband"s mental condition after he witnessed a vehicle being blown up during his first Afghanistan tour.
"From 2008 to the day he died Nathan suffered," Mrs Hunt told the inquest.
"He suffered from nightmares and sleeplessness, and I would see him crying.
"I do believe Nathan wanted to end the nightmares and decided to end his life that night."
The inquest heard WO Hunt suffered depression and mood swings that caused his marriage to end in divorce in 2014.
But the couple were still best friends and he remained a loving father to their nine-year-old daughter, Megan, and had spent Christmas last year with his family.
Mrs Hunt told the inquest: "He didn"t sleep for five nights and I was worried about him driving back to Lincoln."
WO Hunt returned to his own home in the Cathedral city after visiting his parents, Derek and Maria Hunt, on New Year"s Eve.
They raised the alarm after he failed to attend their home as arranged on New Year"s Day and reported that he was "very down" when they had last seen him, and they had talked to him about getting help in the New Year.
WO Hunt was found dead in his home shortly before 10am on January 2.
The inquest heard WO Hunt had consumed a significant level of alcohol before his death.
He was due to leave the Army in September this year after 22 years of service.
Coroner Paul Smith recorded a narrative verdict as he said he could not be sure beyond all doubt from the evidence that WO Hunt intended to take his own life.