A British aid worker who “shone a light in the darkness” was unlawfully killed in Pakistan, a coroner has ruled.
Khalil Dale was abducted by masked men while working with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Quetta, south-west Pakistan, on January 6, 2012.
Chesterfield coroners’ court heard his kidnappers wanted $30million for his return.
Passers-by found his beheaded body on the roadside on April 29, 2012, with a note stating he had been killed because the ransom had not been paid.
The Government and the ICRC do not pay terrorist ransoms.
Summing up the inquest today, Derbyshire’s senior coroner Dr Robert Hunter said: “He was highly regarded by his friends, family and colleagues and driven by a sense of fairness and justice.
“He shone a light in the darkness in very dangerous places.
“His friends, family and colleagues may think that light has gone – but it lives on in all the people he saved and released from suffering.
“He paid the ultimate price and I know he will never be forgotten.”
Dr Hunter ruled Mr Dale was unlawfully killed while providing international humanitarian assistance.
Earlier in the hearing, Jonathan Allen, of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: “It remains unclear who kidnapped Mr Dale and what their motive was.”
Dr Hunter said: “It was a professional abduction and Mr Dale was specifically targeted.
“It’s difficult to say whether this was a criminal abduction at the hands of a criminal gang for financial gain or whether this was a political abduction at the hands of terrorists.”
The inquest took place in Chesterfield because Mr Dale is buried in Derbyshire.
A number of tributes were paid to the 60-year-old during the start of his high-profile inquest on Tuesday.
Jane McLachlan, one of Mr Dale’s close friends, said: “He had a good sense of humour, he was loyal and supportive and he was a real gentleman.
“When he told me he was going to Quetta, he said it was the most dangerous place in the world.
“He told me he was prepared to put himself in danger for a good cause.”
Dora Montheith, another of Mr Dale’s close friends, said: “Khalil was a very hard-working man.
“He didn’t want to see any injustice and he could get very upset about things like corruption.
“I was so shocked when I found out he had been killed.
“I couldn’t believe it had happened.
“He was one of my life-long friends – we were very close.
“He was very happy working in Quetta – he told me it was his dream job.”
Anne Casey, Mr Dale’s fiancée, called him a “living legend”.
She added: “He had a strong humanitarian drive – he wanted to help other people.”
Ms Casey described Quetta as “the wild west of Pakistan” and added: “I was aware there were a lot of risks and he wasn’t naive about the risks.”
Ian Dale, Mr Dale’s brother, said he was a “very adventurous” man.
Mr Dale, who was born in York, grew up in Manchester and lived in Dumfries, is buried in Glossop.
He was awarded an MBE for his humanitarian work.