A British father died from head and chest injuries while fighting with the Ukrainian army, an inquest has heard.
Simon Lingard, 38, died at about noon on November 7 2022 in Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in east Ukraine.
The former paratrooper, from Preston, died after being struck by fragments from artillery fire while trying to rescue Ukrainians, the inquest into his death held at Oxford Coroner’s Court heard on Wednesday.
Mr Lingard’s ex-partner Stacey Longworth spoke to the PA news agency after the inquest and paid tribute to him as “an amazing dad and not just a soldier”.
He was a person outside the military, he was a big charity man but he was also loved by everyone
She added: “There’s a lot of people that don’t agree with what Simon did and have voiced opinions but his family are unbelievably proud of him and we backed him every step of the way.”
Jackson Lingard, Mr Lingard’s son, said: “He was a person outside the military, he was a big charity man but he was also loved by everyone, as well as (being) our dad too.”
In a statement read by the coroner Darren Salter, Ms Longworth said they met when she was 18 and Mr Lingard was 19, quickly moved in together and had their son Jackson in 2005.
They married in March 2006 and split up at the end of 2007.
Ms Longworth said Mr Lingard joined the British Army when he was 16 but was medically discharged because of a knee injury, then he wanted to rejoin when they broke up.
Mr Lingard was recruited by the paratroopers and was in the Army for two or three years before he left and got a job as a mental health support worker, she added.
Mr Lingard set up a charity with two others which helped people who struggled with their mental health and also worked as a landscape gardener while training to become a social worker.
In her statement Ms Longworth described her ex-partner going to Ukraine and coming back to see his children.
She added that he went back to Ukraine in August or September 2022 and the Monday before he died spoke to his family and said he was going to the front line for the last time and then he would be back the week after.
Ms Longworth added: “He was loving life in Ukraine and was considering living there after the war, sending videos of him singing with the locals.”
At 7pm on November 7 2022 Ms Longworth had a call from a friend Mr Lingard had been in Ukraine with, who told her that earlier that day they were fighting and he was killed.
She was told the friend personally carried Mr Lingard’s body back.
Ms Longworth spoke to a sergeant in the unit Mr Lingard was fighting with and told her what a “brave man” he was.
He had added that the unit was trying to rescue Ukrainians when he was killed.
Following a post-mortem examination Mr Lingard’s cause of death was given as penetrating fragment injuries to the head and chest, by Dr Russell Delaney, Home Office forensic pathologist.
Dr Delaney said he would have expected Mr Lingard’s injuries to have resulted in “instant unconsciousness” and death “would have followed rapidly as a consequence of brain injury and blood loss from chest injury”.
Simon volunteered to serve with the Ukrainian army and he did so returning to the UK on certainly one or two occasions before returning again a few months before his death
Coroner Darren Salter
The cause of death given by authorities in Ukraine was damage due to the action of explosion and fragments.
Mr Lingard was identified using dental records on December 8 2022.
Mr Salter said it was apparent Mr Lingard was a “popular person” by the number of his friends who attended the inquest via an online link.
Mr Salter said: “What we know is Simon volunteered, he had military experience and Simon volunteered to serve with the Ukrainian army and he did so returning to the UK on certainly one or two occasions before returning again a few months before his death.
“It sounds like he was due to return to the UK shortly but very sadly on this occasion, although we don’t have precise details, evidence indicates he was in service with his unit in Bakhmut when he was struck by the fragments from artillery fire which sadly, due to the severity of his injuries, caused his death.”
Mr Salter gave a narrative conclusion saying Mr Lingard was “killed whilst on active service with the international legion of the Ukrainian army”.