Inquest hears Brampton man was shot dead on Christmas Eve during visit to Ethiopia

INQUEST: Coroner's Court, Huntingdon

INQUEST: Coroner's Court, Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

A holidaymaker from Brampton was shot dead on Christmas Eve when he was visiting a tourist destination in Ethiopia, an inquest has been told.

Hugh Atkinson, 49, had been on a final holiday before settling down with his girlfriend and their son when he was fatally wounded in December 2014.

Welelaw Kassie, who was carrying the gun, was later convicted of Mr Atkinson’s murder and was jailed for a year and seven months, the inquest in Huntingdon heard.

Kassie had claimed he was transferring the weapon from one shoulder to the other when it went off.

Senior coroner David Heming recorded an unlawful killing verdict on Mr Atkinson, an agronomist.

Mr Atkinson died from shock and a severe chest injury caused by the gunshot wound.

Mr Heming said the delay in completing the inquest had been caused by the difficulty in getting information from Ethiopia, which remained “sketchy”.

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Some of the documents were illegible and there had been problems with translation.

“It is clear that the person who fired the gunshot was prosecuted for murder and convicted of that offence in that country,” Mr Heming said.

In a statement, which was partially illegible, Kassie told officials he owned his own gun and accidentally fired a shot when he moved the weapon from one shoulder to the other, hitting a person in front of him.

He saw someone on the ground bleeding heavily.

The inquest, held at Lawrence Court, in Huntingdon, heard Kassie subsequently handed himself in to the authorities.

Ethiopian officials said the gun was not part of a militia and was privately-owned and registered.

There was also confusion about the sentence received by Kassie, with initial reports suggesting he had been given 12 years, but Mr Heming said court records had been checked and the shorter sentence was recorded.

Family members told the inquest that Mr Atkinson enjoyed travelling and had been on a last holiday before committing to his partner.

Police had called to break the news of his death on Christmas Eve.

The shooting took place at the Giorgis Church in Bahir Dar, a popular tourist destination in the north west of Ethiopia, on the shore of Lake Tana, the country’s largest lake and source of the Blue Nile river.