Lee Bonsall inquest: Coroner calls for mental health review

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Media captionLee Bonsall was found by his wife Serena hanged at home in Tenby

A former soldier found hanged gave no indication he was intending to harm himself, an inquest has heard.

The body of Lee Bonsall, 24, was found at home in Tenby by his wife in 2012.

Mr Bonsall's family believe he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after a friend he was serving with in Afghanistan was shot dead.

Pembrokeshire coroner Mark Layton, recording a narrative verdict, is to ask for a review of mental health procedures for soldiers.

The inquest in Milford Haven heard Mr Bonsall, who had served in 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, hanged himself at home on 3 March, 2012.

Image copyright Serena Bonsall
Image caption Lee Bonsall signed up for the army at age 17 but asked to be discharged after his friend was killed

Coroner Mark Layton said the question of intent remained "unclear" as Mr Bonsall, who was originally from Nottinghamshire, was making plans for the future with his wife.

His family told BBC Wales they strongly believe he had been suffering from PTSD since leaving the army in 2007, despite never having been diagnosed with the condition.

They say Mr Bonsall, who joined the army aged 17 in 2004, changed dramatically following the death in Afghanistan of his best friend, Pte Andrew Cutts, who he served alongside.

Pte Cutts, 19, from Blidworth, Nottinghamshire, died in Helmand province on 6 August 2006.

'Temperamentally unsuitable'

In January 2008 Oxfordshire assistant deputy coroner Andrew Walker ruled Pte Cutts was probably killed by friendly fire when a convoy he was in was attacked.

The inquest on Thursday heard Mr Bonsall asked to be discharged from the army in October 2006 but it was May 2007 before he was assessed.

He was finally discharged in September 2007. The coroner deemed that to be too long a period.

The army's assessment concluded that Mr Bonsall was not suffering from PTSD, but that he was "temperamentally unsuitable" for army life, the inquest was told.

His widow Serena Bonsall has said she believes the army must do more to help soldiers suffering from mental health issues during or as a result of their service.

She appeared on BBC TV last July in a special edition of the current affairs series Panorama - Broken by Battle - which also featured the story of another Welsh soldier who took his own life, L/Sgt Dan Collins from Cardigan.

The programme highlighted how the MoD failed to track what happened to veterans, and the effect on them of their army careers.

Following Thursday's verdict, Mr Layton said he intended to write to Defence Personnel Minister Anna Soubry to suggest that the procedure for arranging psychiatric appointments was reviewed.

He said he also intended to ask the army to review its practice for passing medical records to civilian surgeries.

And he will ask UK Health Minister Jeremy Hunt to highlight the waiting times for psychotherapy.

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