A pair of British aid volunteers killed near the frontlines in Ukraine in January were likely to have been tortured and executed by Russian troops or Wagner Group mercenaries, the family of one of the victims has alleged.
The bodies of Chris Parry, 28, and Andrew Bagshaw, 47, a dual British-New Zealand citizen, were returned to Ukraine as part of a prisoner swap with Russia earlier this year and were later repatriated to the UK.
They were thought to have been killed when their car was hit by an artillery shell during the evacuation of civilians from Soledar – a town near the embattled city of Bakhmut in Donetsk.
But Andrew’s parents, Professor Philip and Dame Susan Bagshaw, told New Zealand outlet Stuff that post-mortem examinations conducted in the UK revealed signs of abuse and a cold-blooded execution, suggesting they were taken hostage and tortured before being killed.
‘He was definitely shot. He may well have been abused. We don’t like to think how badly, but the report of his post-mortem is horrific,’ his father said.
‘Chris was shot twice, once through the torso, and once through the head,’ he declared, adding Andrew had met the same fate.
‘Now, that sounds exactly like the prescription for an execution.’
Philip Bagshaw declined to give further details of the post-mortem, but said the results showed his son Andrew (pictured) was likely subject to a war crime
Philip declined to give further details of the post-mortem, but said the results showed his son was likely subject to a war crime.
‘How badly he was abused, we’ll probably never know,’ Philip said, adding that he had uncovered more evidence working with Ukrainian authorities that the official report of his son’s death in an artillery strike was likely untrue.
‘There are all sorts of reasons for believing that we don’t have the full story… there is no question that his phone was activated a couple of days after he went missing, which would imply that he was conscious two days after he went missing.’
Philip said it was ‘by far the most likely scenario’ that both his son and Chris were stopped and abducted from their aid vehicle by the Wagner Group.
The mercenary force, who at the time was led by oligarch-turned-warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin, was heavily implicated in Russia’s efforts to seize the town of Soledar, as well as the nearby settlement of Vuhledar and the city of Bakhmut, the epicentre of the bloody conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Philip and Susan are now working with a lawyer and coordinating with Ukrainian authorities to investigate their son’s death further. Philip claims that Britain’s FCDO ‘played for time’ when challenged about the circumstances of Andrew and Chris’ deaths, and stuck with the official line that they were killed in an artillery strike despite evidence to the contrary.
MailOnline has contacted the FCDO for comment.
Before their deaths in January, Andrew and Chris were working to evacuate civilians in some of the most war-torn areas near Bakhmut where fierce fighting between Ukraine’s armed forces and Russian troops has raged for months.
Using a Mercedes Sprinter van and worn-out cars, the pair were helping to take supplies to the frontlines and evacuate people to safety who would have otherwise been killed amid the bitter conflict.
The volunteers left Kramatorsk to drive to the nearby town of Soledar in early January, Ukrainian police said, but never made it to their destination.
Chris Parry is pictured with a girl whose family he helped to evacuate from the frontline
Smoke rises after shelling in Soledar, the site of heavy battles with Russian forces in the Donetsk region of Ukraine in January
Plumes of smoke rise in Ukraine from a Russian strike during a 36-hour ceasefire over Orthodox Christmas
Andrew Bagshaw is pictured preparing to head to the frontlines
The National Police of Ukraine wrote in a social media post: ‘On January 7, around 5:15pm, the duty unit of the Bakhmut district police department received a report of the disappearance of two volunteers – citizens of Great Britain.
‘It is known that the day before, January 6, at eight o’clock in the morning, Andrew Bagshaw and Christopher Parry left Kramatorsk for Soledar, but contact with them was lost.’
Chris, who was born in Cornwall but later moved to Cheltenham, was a running coach before he bought a one-way ticket to Ukraine in March last year.
He felt compelled to help Ukraine defend its land against Russia and intended to sign up for Ukraine’s legion of foreign fighters, but said he was told his lack of combat experience would only make him a ‘hindrance’. He instead decided to help with evacuations.
Speaking to Sky News in December, he told of the horrific scenes he witnessed firsthand in Bakhmut and the stress of operating under the constant threat of severe injury or death.
‘I went to a military command unit and spoke to a number of soldiers who described Bakhmut as the ”worst place they had ever been”. They were saying ”this isn’t war, this is hell”.
‘Missiles were landing on the building next door, the roof was shaking. I asked the soldiers, how feasible is it to get to the location of the next evacuee, and they said it was 50/50 you were going to get shot at by a tank.
‘I think people trying to evacuate now are either being shot dead or being forced to become Russian for the rest of their lives.
‘That is why I was willing to risk it, because I know that these people will be executed out on the street or shipped off.’
Andrew meanwhile was born in the UK but lived in Christchurch, New Zealand.
His parents, Philip and Susan, are prominent figures in Christchurch where they founded the Canterbury Charity Hospital and made significant contributions to youth mental health services.
Their son bought a one-way ticket to Ukraine in March last year and was operating in coordination with the New Zealand-based NGO Kiwi Aid and Refugee Evacuation.
Following the revelation that Andrew was seemingly tortured and executed, Philip declared his son’s death should be registered among the ‘ocean of crime and abuse’ surrounding the conflict in Ukraine.
He also pushed the New Zealand government to take an active interest in the Ukrainian investigations into Andrew’s demise.
‘He’s just another in thousands of war crimes that are being committed there on a regular basis. The only difference here is he’s a New Zealand citizen, and it should be added a New Zealand citizen has been [a victim] because, if and when there is ever a day of reckoning, there will be a list and New Zealand should be on that list.’
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.