AN inquest into the death of a young former soldier traumatised by a tour of duty in Afghanistan has recorded a narrative verdict.
The family of Lee Jay Bonsall, 24, believe he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Originally from Nottinghamshire, Mr Bonsall moved to Tenby after meeting his Pembrokeshire-born wife Serena, and took a job as a sales assistant in the Tenby branch of Sainsbury’s.
The Coroner’s Court in Milford Haven heard that before his death, Mr Bonsall visited a local GP. He was suffering from a low mood and was given a repeat prescription for the anti-depressant Citalopram. Serena Bonsall said she noticed a “big improvement” in her husband’s mood when he started taking the drug.
The Doctor who saw Mr Bonsall said she considered therapy as an option, but the ten-month waiting list in Pembrokeshire made this option “unviable”.
The Coroner heard that on March 3 2012, Serena Bonsall found her husband hanging from a stair banister at their home in Rocky Park. She said the last day they spent together was “a very happy one”, and there had been no indication he intended to harm himself.
Coroner’s Officer Jeremy Davies said Mr Bonsall “made a great start” in his army career, but his performance deteriorated following a tour of Afghanistan, during which Mr Bonsall’s close friend and colleague, Private Andrew Cutts, was killed while on patrol.
In a statement read to the court, Mr Bonsall’s mother, Karen, said her son joined up at 17 and would often tell the family how much he enjoyed army life.
“When he came back [from Afghanistan], he had changed,” she said. “He took sick leave. He said he wanted to leave the army, but he was told to try and stick it out for another six months.”
On his return from Afghanistan in October 2006, Mr Bonsall requested early release from his army contract, but it was May 2007 before he was assessed by an MOD psychiatrist.
The doctor concluded Mr Bonsall did not have PTSD, but was ‘temperamentally unsuitable” for military service.
In July 2007, Mr Bonsall attempted self-harm by taking eight paracetamol tablets. He was administratively discharged in September 2007.
In June 2009, a friend of Mr Bonsall’s caught him trying to attach a hose-pipe to the exhaust of his car.
Pembrokeshire Coroner Mark Layton recorded a narrative verdict saying the question of intent remained "unclear".
He said he intended to write to the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans to suggest that the procedure for arranging psychiatric appointments was reviewed.
He also promised to ask the MOD to look at its procedures for passing on service personnel medical records to civilian doctor’s surgeries, and said he intended to draw Ministers’ attention to the overly lengthy waiting times for psychotherapy in Wales.