A YOUNG British citizen who died fighting ISIL shot himself dead to avoid falling into the hands of the militants, an inquest heard. A coroner said Ryan Lock, 20, from Chichester, West Sussex, died a hero last December fighting with the Kurdish forces in the Syrian city of Raqqa, considered to be the terror group’s de facto capital.
Former chef Ryan, who had no previous military experience, joined the Kurdish militia after telling his family he was going backpacking to Turkey in August last year. An inquest in Portsmouth, Hampshire, heard that after being wounded and surrounded by ISIL fighters, he turned his gun on himself to avoid being captured and suffering a “frightening and painful death”.
Recording a narrative verdict, Portsmouth and South East Hampshire coroner David Horsley said Ryan had sustained a leg wound that left him at risk of falling into the hands of a “cruel and ruthless” enemy. Horsley said: “He was not prepared to let that happen and used his own weapon to avoid capture. That can only be viewed as a brave action.”
The coroner described Ryan as a “heroic young man” and added: “He died doing something he quite clearly believed passionately in.”
In the months before he died, Ryan had kept in touch with his family from Syria via Facebook Messenger, sending them pictures and updates on his military training. But after losing contact with him, in December 2016 Ryan’s father Jon Plater found images online of his son with an IS fighter standing over his body, and his death was later confirmed, the inquest heard.
Pathologist Dr. Purdue said Ryan’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head.