Belfast Telegraph

Ballykinler deaths: Officer called soldier 'selfish d**k after he self-harmed, Darren Mitchell and James Ross inquest told

The claim was made during an inquest into the deaths of two soldiers who took their own lives at Abercorn Barracks in Ballykinler.

File photo dated 05/11/09 of the entrance to Ballykinler barracks in Co Down, Northern Ireland. An inquest into the deaths of two young British soldiers at their barracks is due to begin later. James Ross and Darren Mitchell died from suspected suicide within three months of each other at Ballykinler in Co Down.
File photo dated 05/11/09 of the entrance to Ballykinler barracks in Co Down, Northern Ireland. An inquest into the deaths of two young British soldiers at their barracks is due to begin later. James Ross and Darren Mitchell died from suspected suicide within three months of each other at Ballykinler in Co Down.

A young soldier who had self-harmed while based at a Co Down army barracks said a senior officer called him a “selfish d**k” afterwards, an inquest has heard.

The incident took place at Abercorn Barracks in Ballykinler where two soldiers had taken their own lives within a three-month period from December 2012 to February 2013.

Rifleman Darren Mitchell, 20, from London, was found hanged in his room at Abercorn Barracks in Ballykinler, Co Down, on February 10 2013.

Lance Corporal James Ross, 30, from Leeds, was also found hanged in his room, on December 8 2012.

bpanews_c2e2ab64-1825-495e-bc29-0fe71f0a9221_embedded241008328
Rifleman Darren Mitchell who was found dead at Abercorn Barracks in Ballykinler (Liberty Human Rights)

Both men were serving with the Second Battalion the Rifles and had previously been on active service in Afghanistan.

An inquest sitting at Ballymena courthouse is examining both deaths.

On Monday the inquest heard from a soldier who had been based at Ballykinler in 2013, via video link from Leeds court house.

He has been granted anonymity during the proceedings and is referred to as Soldier D.

He was a friend of Rifleman Mitchell and one of three who found him dead in his room. He later was one of several soldiers who were involved in self-harming in that period.

bpanews_c2e2ab64-1825-495e-bc29-0fe71f0a9221_embedded241008329
Lance Corporal James Ross whose inquest, along with Rifleman Darren Mitchell, is taking place (Liberty Human Rights/PA)

Soldier D described finding his friend dead as “heartbreaking”.

The three were sent to another barracks in Lisburn for a week, twice, to help them cope with their loss.

Soldier D claimed that Corporal Mark Farragher accused him and his two friends of “bluffing” to get out of work due to their trips to Lisburn.

He also claimed the senior officer had made “sly comments” to them on parade and the other soldiers had laughed.

When asked by Karen Quinlivan QC, counsel for the Mitchell and Ross families, how it had made him feel he replied: “Horrible, they were meant to be there to help you, and talk to, when they are doing that, there is no one to talk to”.

He also detailed another incident during which he said Company Sergeant Major Roger Webb had called him a “selfish dick” in the Guardroom after he had self-harmed.

When asked how he’d felt after that, he said: “even worse”.

Philip Aldworth, counsel for the Ministry of Defence, put to Soldier D that other higher ranking officers had been supportive, and that he had received medical attention and support from the army.

Soldier D named two senior officers who were supportive.

bpanews_c2e2ab64-1825-495e-bc29-0fe71f0a9221_embedded241065596
Carol Mitchell (right), mother of Rifleman Darren Mitchell , attends the inquest into his death (Rebecca Black/PA)

Giving evidence to the inquest last week, Rifleman Mitchell’s mother Carol Mitchell said it was a “perfect storm” of factors that contributed to her son’s death.

“He thought everyone was leaving, he was exhausted, his back pay hadn’t come through, he had had a row with Cher (his girlfriend) and he had just got back after being away for a long time,” she told the inquest, adding that she did not blame the Army for his death but felt more could have been done to help him.

The inquest continues.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph