Scottish soldier executed while searching for missing kit
Highlander killed by the Taliban after leaving his base to look for missing night-vision goggles.
A young Scottish soldier was executed by the Taliban in Afghanistan after leaving his checkpoint to search for some missing kit, an inquest has heard.
Highlander Scott McLaren, 20, from Edinburgh, was tortured and shot five times in the head before his body was dumped in a river.
The soldier, of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, apparently left the safety of his base in the middle of the night to retrieve a pair of night-vision goggles left by a comrade at a nearby vehicle checkpoint.
His semi-naked corpse was found by British forces hours later after a search was launched when he was discovered missing.
A verdict of unlawful killing was recorded at the inquest in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, on Friday.
However the inquest also heard that when Mr McLaren left his checkpoint in the early hours of July 4 this year, he was caught on CCTV heading in the opposite direction from where the goggles had been left.
Wiltshire and Swindon Coroner David Ridley told the soldier's parents, James and Ann, that it would remain a mystery why their son had taken that route.
"Quite clearly Scott was concerned as regards the missing goggles and talked of going back to the checkpoint on the northern side of the canal where they were last seen," Mr Ridley said.
"But the fact, quite clearly on the evidence and in particular the CCTV imagery, points quite clearly to Scott heading in the direction of the bridge but he never crosses the bridge and heads off in an entirely different direction.
"It is unclear what Scott was doing that night and sadly the only person who could help us is no longer with us."
CCTV shown at the inquest last captured Highlander McLaren at 2.29am. He was discovered missing an hour later by colleagues preparing to go out on patrol.
At 5pm that day his body was discovered lying face down in a river approximately four and a half kilometres to the south of the checkpoint.
Recording a verdict of unlawful killing, Mr Ridley said: "I am satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Scott was captured by insurgent forces and ultimately was executed by insurgent forces on the morning of July 4."
Mr McLaren had only been deployed to Afghanistan in April.
Colleagues described him as a man of "true grit" with a "heart of gold".