Northern Ireland news

British soldier who died from suspected suicide at Ballykinler 'feeling down after Afghanistan deaths', inquest hears

Two soldiers were found hanging at Ballykinler army base in Co Down in the space of two months. Picture by Pacemaker
Michael McHugh, Press Association

A BRITISH soldier who died from suspected suicide in Northern Ireland was "feeling down" after the deaths of colleagues in Afghanistan, witness testimony before an inquest disclosed.

A colleague used rhyming slang to describe the barracks where two servicemen are believed to have taken their own lives as "Bally Kill Yourself", a lawyer told an inquest.

Lance Corporal James Ross (30) had discussed the loss of personnel during overseas armed combat, written testimony before counsel for the victims' families disclosed.

He was found hanging in his room at Ballykinler army base in Co Down in December 2012.

Two months later, Rifleman Darren Mitchell, who was 20 and also served in Afghanistan, was also discovered hanging.

Karen Quinlivan QC, a barrister for the men's families, wants witness Noel Walker to give oral evidence at the pending inquest.

She said: "He saw James Ross and discussed his demeanour, he discussed that they had lost people in Afghanistan and described him as feeling down.

"He may have been the person who referred to Ballykinler as Bally Kill Yourself.

"It would appear to us that he is an important witness that should be called."

Additional cases of alleged self-harm have also emerged at the base, previous preliminary hearings of the inquest have disclosed.

Lance Corporal Ross, from Leeds, served in Afghanistan with 2nd Battalion the Rifles.

Monday's preliminary inquest before coroner Joe McCrisken in Belfast dealt with a number of legal matters and was expected to be the last preparatory hearing before the inquest proper opens in Ballymena, Co Antrim, early next month.

Ms Quinlivan raised the prospect of subpoenaing another witness, Chris Ingram, who has not responded to letters seeking his attendance.

Mr McCrisken asked his lawyer to contact Mr Ingram by telephone and warn him the coroner holds powers to ensure he attends the inquest.

Dozens of witnesses are to be called and the inquest is expected to last three weeks.

A discussion was also held about the legalities of returning a finding of suicide.

At one stage, more British soldiers and veterans took their own lives than died fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan over the same period, the BBC has reported.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Northern Ireland news

Today's horoscope


See a different horoscope: