A freelance journalist who was shot in the back of the head in Iraq was unlawfully killed, an inquest heard yesterday.

Richard Wild, a 24-year-old former soldier from Melrose, Roxburghshire, died on July 5, 2003, after just two weeks in the country covering the aftermath of the war.

He was leaving the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad when he was killed by a gunman.

His family said after his death that they had tried to persuade him not to go to Iraq as a freelance journalist but he wanted to establish himself as a war correspondent. After his death, Mr Wild's body was flown back to the UK by the RAF, and landed at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire deputy assistant coroner Andrew Walker, sitting at Oxford Coroner's Court yesterday, heard that the American military were not, at that time, investigating civilian deaths so little evidence about the murder existed.

His father, Robin, previously claimed his son's death was not properly investigated and his family had been given conflicting information.

Mr Wild said, officials at first told the family his son had been killed after being surrounded by an angry mob.

But he later told a newspaper he had discovered "he was killed by a man who had waited in his car in the university car park until Richard came out from his appointment with the director of the museum".

ITN said then that the channel was "shocked and saddened" at his death, saying: "In the six months that Richard worked at ITN, he was regarded as a dedicated and popular member of the newsroom team, particularly as he tracked all the material coming into ITN during the Iraq war."

Mr Wild grew up near Melrose. After school he became a lieutenant in the King's Regiment for a year, then went to Jesus College, Cambridge, where he read history, and studied for an MPhil in medieval history.

About 500 people, including Mr Wild's parents, Robin and Daphne, and his sisters, Alison and Rosemary, attended his funeral service at Melrose Palace Church.

The service had to be moved from the smaller St Boswells Parish Church to accommodate the large number of family and friends who wanted to attend.

The Rev Bruce Neill said Mr Wild's life had been "a catalogue of achievements" in the sporting, academic, musical and professional fields.

The family had urged him not to go to Iraq, but Mr Neill said no-one should now have any regrets he had decided to make the dangerous journey.

Mr Wild's sister Alison Curtis said in 2005 she had named her new baby son Alexander Richard Brooke Curtis, in memory of her brother.