PM's tribute as body of Jarrow-born soldier Capt Dean Sprouting, who died in Iraq, returns to UK

Capt Sprouting's coffin is carried from the plane
Capt Sprouting's coffin is carried from the plane

Prime Minister Theresa May has paid tribute to a Jarrow-born soldier killed on active service in Iraq.

A Hercules transport aircraft carrying the Union Flag-draped coffin of Capt Dean Sprouting touched down at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire today.

Capt Sprouting's coffin is carried from the Hercules

Capt Sprouting's coffin is carried from the Hercules

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Mrs May said: "I know that the whole House will join me in paying tribute to Captain Dean Sprouting, who died in a road traffic accident in Iraq on 31 January. His death was not the result of enemy activity.

"I know that members in all parts of the House will want to join me in offering condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time."

Captain Sprouting died in a road accident at Al Asad Air Base on January 31.

Captain Sprouting, of the Adjutant General's Corps at the air base, was serving with Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland.

The coffin is saluted as it returns to the UK

The coffin is saluted as it returns to the UK

The father of two, of Denny, Stirlingshire, joined the army in 1989 and had served in places including Northern Yugoslavia, Cyprus and Kosovo, Sudan, Angola and Germany.

Paying tribute at the time of Capt Sprouting's death, Commanding officer Lt Col Rob Hedderwick said: "It hard to do justice to a man such as Dean Sprouting with simple words.

"In no time at all he had become an indispensable part of the battalion, not only for his professional expertise but also for his compassionate manner and camaraderie.

"His intelligence and sharp wit was apparent from the outset; there was an ever-present twinkle in his eye and he would gladly admit that his youth had been full of adventure.

Capt Sprouting's coffin is carried across the apron of RAF Brize Norton

Capt Sprouting's coffin is carried across the apron of RAF Brize Norton

"Dean was simply one of those people whose infectious humour and enthusiasm drew others to him. His professional knowledge was second to none and his sage advice already something I had come to rely on.

"His loss is keenly felt by us all and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children whom I know he cherished more than anything else in this world.

"I am hugely proud and thankful to have known him. He was a very good man."

Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster said: "Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.

Capt Sprouting's coffin, draped in the Union Flag

Capt Sprouting's coffin, draped in the Union Flag

"An investigation is under way to establish the detail but it is not a result of enemy activity."

Pallbearers carry Capt Sprouting's coffin to the waiting hearse

Pallbearers carry Capt Sprouting's coffin to the waiting hearse

Capt Sprouting's coffin is lifted into the hearse

Capt Sprouting's coffin is lifted into the hearse