Ex-soldier found dead at embassy in Kabul ‘ordered drugs via Whatsapp’, coroner hears

He had been working as a close personal protection officer for G4S guarding diplomats (Image: belfastlive.co.uk)

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A former soldier found dead in the British Embassy in Afghanistan was "ordering drugs over Whatsapp", a coroner heard.

Mark Taylor, 46, was found dead in Kabul on April 2 2020 with traces of morphine in his system.

The dad-of-three from Belfast was a close personal protection officer for G4S guarding diplomats in the Afghan capital.

Before that he had served with the British Army for 14 years.

At a pre-inquest review today, Southwark Coroner's Court heard Mark's wife Jennifer discovered a series of Whatsapp messages on his phone which appeared to show him ordering drugs.

Although a pathologist in Afghanistan has not provided a cause of death, a toxicology report of Mark's urine found traces of morphine and benzedrine.

Drugs were also found in his accommodation.

Mark was dad to three kids and husband to Jennifer
(Image: belfastlive.co.uk)

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Bernard Richmond QC, representing the family, said he would be sending transcripts of the messages to the coroner.

He said: "I have been made aware of a series of Whatsapp messages which are on Mr Taylor's phone which is in possession of the family.

"He is quite clearly sourcing a significant amount of drugs. And he's in conversation with other people that he may work with.

"One of the things we are concerned about is the extent to which these drugs being taken have an effect which may be relevant to the death. There are a very significant number of drugs."

The court heard Mark had been complaining of symptoms including tremors and pus coming out of his nose in the hours before his death.

Mr Richmond added: "There are clearly a series of symptoms which are not explained.

Daughter Jorja with a photo of her dad
(Image: belfastlive.co.uk)

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"We intend for you to consider whether any of those drugs ordered by him, or in his possession, could have caused symptoms similar to the ones that were noted.

"Given there is no obvious cause of death it's a sensible way of inquiring to see if there's anything in the toxicology.

The toxicologist in Afghanistan does raise the issue of the symptoms leading up to the death particularly the pus coming from the nose, and sub-deterioration of the condition of tremors."

Representing G4S, Bilal Rawat said: "It's essential to see whether symptoms that Mr Taylor was displaying in the 24 hours before his death can be linked to the drugs found in the urine sample and the drugs found in his room after his death."

Senior coroner Andrew Harris said he would attempt to make contact with the pathologist and toxicologist in Afghanistan to see if they will engage with the inquest.

Speaking in August, Mrs Taylor, 44, said: "I spoke to Mark the night before [he died] and he sounded unwell.

"He had no voice and flu-like symptoms and said he was to see the medic in the morning.

"The following morning the police came to my work and asked me if my husband was Mark Taylor.

"I knew something was wrong but never did I think they were going to tell me Mark was dead.

"I don’t remember much after that but I called my dad and he just screamed – he and my mum were like parents to Mark.

"Dad went to my home and told my son Owen and daughter Aimee. I couldn’t have delivered that news.

"Telling my seven-year-old Jorja was probably the worst thing I’ve ever had to do. How do you break your child’s heart?

"Mark was a fantastic dad and would never have left his children."

A further pre-inquest review will take place on May 11.