News Queensland coroner ‘unable’ to rule soldier’s death inside Australian Embassy was suicide

Queensland coroner ‘unable’ to rule soldier’s death inside Australian Embassy was suicide

The coroner says there is insufficient evidence to suggest Chris Betts meant to take his own life Photo: ABC
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Warning: The following story contains details which may be distressing for some readers.

The death of a Queensland security guard at the Australian Embassy in Baghdad was most likely a “tragic accident”, a coroner has found.

Former Australian soldier Chris Betts, 34, died on May 12, 2016 when a night of drinking and playing video games with his colleague Sun McKay ended in him dead with a single gunshot wound to the head.

Mr McKay and Mr Betts were friends who both worked for the firm Unity Resources Group (URG), which was contracted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to provide personal protection to embassy staff.

Mr Betts’s death was initially reported as a suicide, but his parents pushed for the inquest over concerns other factors may have played a role.

In handing down his findings, state coroner Terry Ryan said there was insufficient evidence to suggest Mr Betts intentionally took his own life.

“Just before 2.30am, Mr Betts took Mr McKay’s Glock handgun, which was kept in Mr McKay’s room and had been loaded earlier by Mr McKay,” Mr Ryan said.

“Mr Betts held it next to his head and pulled the trigger, and suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

“I’m unable to find that Mr Betts intended to take his own life.

“It’s likely that his death was a tragic accident.”

‘He died when it was least expected’

Mr Ryan said Mr Betts was off duty and at the end of his deployment when he died.

“He was supposed to travel home the next day to see his wife and his parents,” Mr Ryan told the court.

“He died when it was least expected that he would and when he was supposed to be in relatively safe surroundings.”

URG no longer holds the security contract for the Australian Embassy in Baghdad.