News

Soldier, 21, found dead from gunshot wound after sending WhatsApp to friend

A young soldier was found dead at an army base in Afghanistan, an inquest has heard.

Private Joe Berry, from Crewe, died on February 22, 2020.

He was serving with the Second Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, at the New Kabul Compound at the time, CheshireLive reports.

Read more: Heartbroken family’s emotional tribute to dad-of-four who died in tragedy

The 21-year-old was found dead in a portable toilet on the site by one of his fellow soldiers, who had been looking for him after Joe sent a WhatsApp message to his roommate.

Reports from a pathologist and a forensic scientist concluded that he died from a gunshot wound to the head that was ‘consistent with being self-inflicted’.

It also emerged that he had been in trouble with his company sergeant major that morning for cleaning and unloading his rifle in his room the night before, which is not allowed due to safety reasons.

During the first day of the inquest in Warrington on Wednesday (January 5), statements were made by a number of army personnel who were serving with Joe in Kabul at the time of his death.

Joe’s roommate, Lance Corporal Josh Brown, said Joe had returned from range practice at about 9pm the day before (February 21, 2020), at which point he had started to strip his rifle to begin cleaning it.

The next morning, Lance Corporal Brown woke and noticed Joe’s rifle was ‘still in pieces’, and the muzzle had become ‘blocked’ due to Joe using the wrong sized flannelette, which is usually used to clean the inside of the barrel.

He said: “I noticed there was an issue and I tried to help him unblock his muzzle.

“We tried for a good 10-20 minutes before I suggested to him that he should take it to ‘Goody’ (armourer Lance Corporal Scott Goodenough).”

In a written statement, multiple commander Thomas Wilson said he saw Joe in the corridor close to the armoury and helped him unblock his rifle and put it together again.

Sgt Major Christopher Groves said he had to reprimand Joe that morning after finding out he had been unloading and cleaning his weapon in his room and not in the designated area.

But he added: “I said ‘we all make mistakes’ and I could see he was distressed. I said he should get on with the rest of his day and that we’d deal with it later.”

“He was tearful and that’s why I took the opportunity to say to him that we all make mistakes, to accept the mistake and get on with the rest of the day.”

Joe was asked by Sgt Major Groves to get his multiple commander Sgt Tony Fitzpatrick, who said the young soldier had seemed ‘tearful’ and kept saying ‘I f***** up’.

Lance Corporal Brown later alerted Sgt Fitzpatrick after he received a WhatsApp message from Joe that said: “Thanks for being such a good friend. I wish I was better at everything. You are such a legend…..love you man.”

The message also informed them where he was, and a search for Joe began with Private Kyle Smith, now a Lance Corporal, heading to the area where the portable toilets were.

He said he found Joe dead in a portable toilet along with his Glock pistol, which they carried at all times, his phone, a notebook with a message on it and a pen.

Samaritans (116 123) samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org , write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.

For support for people feeling suicidal, if you are concerned about someone or if you are bereaved by suicide see http://shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk

CALM (0800 58 58 58) thecalmzone.net has a helpline is for men who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. They’re open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year.

Greater Manchester Bereavement Service Greater Manchester Bereavement Service can help to find support for anyone in Greater Manchester that has been bereaved or affected by a death. No one needs to feel alone as they deal with their grief. www.greater-manchester-bereavement-service.org.uk

Childline (0800 1111 ) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Beat Eating Disorders: Beat provides helplines for adults and young people offering support and information about eating disorders. These helplines are free to call from all phones. Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677, Studentline: 0808 801 0811, Youthline: 0808 801 0711. www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk

Anorexia & Bulimia Care: ABC provide on-going care, emotional support and practical guidance for anyone affected by eating disorders, those struggling personally and parents, families and friends. Helpline: 03000 11 12 13. www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk/

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying studentsagainstdepression.org

For information and links to charities and organisations that can help with substance abuse, visit https://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/drugs/

Lance Corporal Smith described the items as looking like they had been ‘placed’.

According to the report from the forensic scientist, it was the Glock that had been fired.

Paying tribute to her son during the inquest, Joe’s mum Lisa Snow said her son ‘loved’ being in the army.

She said: “In all honesty, I would have probably preferred another career path for him as I didn’t want to see him get hurt or take risks.

“He prepared for a long time with his fitness and reading lots of books. He had a small stature – you would not look at him and immediately think paratrooper but he was very strong mentally and physically.

“He absolutely loved it, he was living his dream. He wanted to see the world and he hoped the army would help him to do that.”

She described him as an ‘inspirational’ person who loved animals and the theatre, adding that most of the letters she received after his death were sent by people who referred to him as ‘their best friend’.

Joe’s Dad Nick Berry, a squad leader in the RAF, said: “I am incredibly proud of what he was able to achieve. It takes something special to do what they (the parachute regiment) do.

“It was a big adventure for him and I was always proud of what he was doing.”

Both Mr Berry and Ms Snow were regularly in contact with Joe during his deployment, and both said there were no signs that he was planning to take his own life.

The inquest is due to be concluded by the senior coroner for Cheshire Alan Moore on Thursday (January 6).

Sign up to the MEN email newsletters to get the latest on sport, news, what’s on and more by following this link.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

close