Soldier found dead after confession


Published: Tuesday 13th January 2015 by The News Editor

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A married soldier was found dead days after telling his wife he had an affair with a man during their engagement, an inquest heard.

Lance Bombardier Richard Jones, 23, originally from Caerphilly, made the claim after returning from a two-week sailing trip in the Azores with Army colleagues.

Wiltshire & Swindon Coroner’s Court heard L/Bdr Jones began behaving strangely on the trip, telling wife Jodie he was being bullied and would lose his job.

After arriving at their home in Larkhill, Wiltshire, the soldier told his wife that he had been in a relationship with a man before their wedding in 2011.

Over the following four days, L/Bdr Jones experienced increasing paranoia and hallucinations and twice attended Salisbury District Hospital.

Colleagues discovered his body after Mrs Jones, who was visiting family in Wales, raised the alarm when she could not contact him by phone.

Mrs Jones told the inquest the couple were experiencing fertility issues, though her husband had not suffered from any other mental or physical issues before going sailing.

But during the second week of the trip, she began receiving odd phone calls and text messages – including one on his way home which said: “I’m sorry. You deserve better.”

“He was blank,” she said. “I knew the man that walked back in the door wasn’t the man that left.

“His normal routine was kisses, hugs, excitement and there was none of it. He put his bag down and he kissed me on the cheek.

“He said ‘I have something I need to tell you’.

“We sat down and he said that while we were engaged and he was living at Larkhill Camp, he had an affair with another man.”

Bombadier Steven Mitchell, a friend, attended the property and told Mrs Jones she needed to take her husband to hospital as he was suffering from a psychiatric breakdown.

Bdr Mitchell, of Larkhill, said his colleague’s behaviour had been “bizarre” on the sailing trip – accusing his superiors of hacking his phone and sleeping on a wall.

Mrs Jones and L/Bdr Jones attended Salisbury District Hospital that evening, October 11 2012, but later left as they did not believe he would be helped there.

The following morning, October 12, the couple had an appointment with their GP, who they told about his mental state and the claim of infidelity he had made.

“I said I felt disgusted, but that he also made allegations that he thought he was going to get sacked from the Army and he was acting strange,” Mrs Jones said.

“Richard then perked up and said ‘I do love my wife, it was a mistake and I want our marriage to work’.”

In the early hours of October 13, Mrs Jones took her husband to Salisbury District Hospital, but he later walked out of the ward without being treated.

Mrs Jones decided to stay with her parents that night and drove to Wales while her husband remained at home.

“He asked me was I going to divorce him and was our relationship over and I said no, we just needed some time apart,” she said.

She spoke to L/Bdr Jones at around 3.30am on October 14 and informed him she would return home early the following morning.

L/Bdr Jones failed to answer any phone calls throughout the day and Mrs Jones asked colleagues to check him before her arrival on Monday.

“Richard was a 23-year-old man and not for one second did I think the outcome would be what it was,” she told the inquest.

The inquest heard L/Bdr Jones took a fitness supplement called Hemo-Rage around three months before his death.

Mrs Jones said: “Richard explained it was something you take for the gym that gives you an extra boost and lets you train for longer.

“He was a very active man and enjoyed running, tug of war and gym. It came in a small tub and twice I saw Richard take it.

“He said he didn’t like it and he put it in the shed.”

The supplement was later destroyed by Bdr Mitchell as it was not permitted in the Army, the inquest heard.

L/Bdr Jones was also taking medication to stop seasickness while sailing, Bdr Mitchell said.

He described L/Bdr Jones behaving “out of character” on the trip – talking to himself and asserting that his phone had been hacked and people were trying to take samples of his hair.

“When he said he had told Jodie about the affair with another man I started feeling if he really thought those things were happening he needed to see a doctor of some sort,” Bdr Mitchell said.

Mrs Jones said there was “no evidence either way” that her husband had been in such a relationship but she knew his other claims were untrue.

Dr Julian Woodhouse, L/Bdr Jones’ GP, said the full extent of his mental state was not disclosed during the appointment on October 12 2012.

The appointment began with a discussion about the couple’s latest fertility results then moved to L/Bdr Jones’ condition.

“He said he had not been feeling himself for about a week or two,” Dr Woodhouse told the inquest.

“My recollection at the time was initially it was Richard talking up until the point he almost blurted out he cheated on his wife.

“I had to ask him was this what was making him feel unsettled.

“He said he had been mulling it over in his mind for a long time and he had told Jodie about it after returning from the sailing trip to the Azores.

“He said it was a one-off and it was with a man. He told me it had been sober and premeditated.

“He quickly blurted out he regretted it, didn’t enjoy it and didn’t want to do it again.”

Dr Woodhouse said L/Bdr maintained he was not feeling suicidal, but did not mention sleeping on a harbour wall, nor beliefs his phone was being hacked.

“I would have formed an opinion that these were fairly major psychiatric symptoms,” Dr Woodhouse added.

Published: Tuesday 13th January 2015 by The News Editor

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