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Soldier worried by debts and jumpy after Afghanistan service, inquest told

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

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An inquest is taking pace into the death of Rifleman Darren Mitchell (Liberty Human Rights/PA)

An inquest is taking pace into the death of Rifleman Darren Mitchell (Liberty Human Rights/PA)

An inquest is taking pace into the death of Rifleman Darren Mitchell (Liberty Human Rights/PA)

A soldier who is believed to have taken his own life was £6,000 in debt, jumpy after his service in Afghanistan and felt isolated, an inquest has heard.

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

It came just months after another soldier, Lance Corporal James Ross, 30, from Leeds, was also found hanged in his room, on December 8 2012.

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Lance Corporal James Ross, pictured, and Rifleman Darren Mitchell both died at their base in Northern Ireland (Liberty Human Rights/PA).

Lance Corporal James Ross, pictured, and Rifleman Darren Mitchell both died at their base in Northern Ireland (Liberty Human Rights/PA).

Press Association Images

Lance Corporal James Ross, pictured, and Rifleman Darren Mitchell both died at their base in Northern Ireland (Liberty Human Rights/PA).

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.

Carol Mitchell told the inquest it was a “perfect storm” of factors that contributed to her son’s death.

She described how he had been in debt up to £6,000, an amount that she said would have seemed “insurmountable” to Darren, pointing out he was just 20.

Following his death, she said the owed back pay from the Army settled those debts.

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The inquests are taking place a Ballymena courthouse (Rebecca Black/PA)

The inquests are taking place a Ballymena courthouse (Rebecca Black/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

The inquests are taking place a Ballymena courthouse (Rebecca Black/PA)

Mrs Mitchell also told the inquest that Darren had told her about two incidents in Afghanistan which upset him.

In one, he had been due to be the soldier at the front of a patrol but was swapped with a colleague at the last minute. That soldier then suffered severe leg injuries in an attack.

She also detailed that towards the end of 2012, he had become hyper vigilant, confided in her less, was jumpy and struggling to sleep.

He had successfully applied for his “dream job” in the Army as an outdoor activity instructor, but this had involved undertaking courses across the UK and in Spain and Germany which left him very tired.

In addition, Mrs Mitchell described how her son had felt isolated after a knee injury held him back from joining his unit in Afghanistan, and instead had to serve with a different unit.

When he returned to Ballykinler and the new job, he continued to feel isolated, as a number of soldiers were taking redundancy at that time.

“Everything hit him at that precise moment,” Mrs Mitchell told the inquest.

“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 added that she did not blame the Army for his death but felt more could have been done to help him.

The inquest continues.

PA