AN INQUEST has been opened into the death of a soldier who was fatally injured during a training exercise at the Castlemartin range.

Sergeant Gavin Hillier, 35, from the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards, died at the site in Pembrokeshire on March 4 this year.

Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire Coroner's Court heard that investigations into the incident by Dyfed-Powys Police, the Health and Safety Executive and the Ministry of Defence are ongoing.

Coroner's officer Lisa Jenkins told a hearing in Haverfordwest: "On March 4 2021, Dyfed-Powys Police were notified of an incident at the Castlemartin range in Pembrokeshire.

"Upon attending, they had been notified of the death of one male, identified as Sgt Gavin Hillier, of 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.


"Sgt Hillier had been taking part in a training exercise when the incident occurred.

"Dyfed-Powys Police launched an investigation, liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and the Ministry of Defence, and this is still ongoing."

Acting senior coroner Paul Bennett opened the inquest into Sgt Hillier's death.

He told the hearing that there were "various inquiries" taking place by Dyfed-Powys Police, the Health and Safety Executive and the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Bennett said such investigations would need to be completed before it would be known whether the matter would remain with him or be adjourned.

"What I'm proposing to do therefore is to adjourn this matter to a date for a pre-inquest review hearing," Mr Bennett said.

"That matter is likely not to take place before October 31.

"However, once I have the update from the various organisation that I've indicated that are investigating matters, I will be in a position then to determine whether I should resume the inquiry and hold a pre-inquest review for that purpose."

Mr Bennett adjourned the hearing for a date to be fixed.

In March, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that Sgt Hillier had died in a "non-operational training incident" at Castlemartin ranges.

It said Sgt Hillier served a "distinguished career", deploying on operations in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2019, Sgt Hillier was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct medal by the Prince of Wales.

His wife Karyn and sons Declan and Connor described themselves as "heartbroken" following his death.

"We are absolutely heartbroken and can't express how proud we are of you," they said.

"Our boys will continue to make you proud and you will forever live on through them."

His mother Karen and her partner Malcom said they would be "proud for always".

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of Sgt Hillier's death.

"The dedication and distinction he demonstrated through his long Army career is evident in the testimony of those who served with him," he added.