Inquest into death of soldier found hanged in park

Aidan Knight SUS-170307-142659001
Aidan Knight SUS-170307-142659001

An inquest examining the circumstances surrounding the death of 29-year-old ex-soldier who was found hanged in Tilgate Park, Crawley, has reopened today (Monday July 3).

Father-of-three, Aidan Knight, who had been diagnosed with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was discovered on April 8 2015, said law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, which is representing his family.

A Hodge Jones & Allen spokesman said: “His death followed numerous suicide attempts made over the previous six months.

“The inquest, which began in November 2016 has heard evidence concerning the actions of Sussex Police, the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and West Sussex County Council in the days and months leading up to Aidan’s death. The family seek to understand why Aidan was not identified as being at high risk, why his treatment was delayed and the adequacy of response of the authorities in the hours leading up to his death.”

Aidan joined the army aged 17 and fought in Iraq. He left after five years and confided in his mother that he had seen ‘too much death’ during the conflict. He was deeply distressed by his brother’s death in 2012.

The Hodge Jones & Allen spokesman said: “In October 2014, Aidan took an overdose of Diazepam, in the first of four suicide attempts over a short period of time. Despite assessments by police and NHS psychiatrists, some of which recorded symptoms of PTSD, Aidan was not considered high risk enough to be admitted to hospital and did not receive treatment.

“Aidan continued to experience distress and on 5 March 2015 went to A&E at East Surrey Hospital to seek help. A psychiatric nurse diagnosed Aidan as suffering with symptoms of PTSD and advised that he would be contacted by the Community Mental Health Team. Aidan was assessed by the Community Mental Health Team on 10 March. He was referred to a mental health liaison practitioner.”

However, Aidan’s need for a practitioner was not confirmed until March 26. In the meantime, he had visited his GP about the lack of follow up from the Community Mental Health Team and had been prescribed anti-depressants, the spokesman said.

He added: “Over the following month, Aidan’s family became increasingly concerned about his behaviour and the fact that he continued to voice suicidal thoughts. The mental health practitioner assigned Aidan’s case was on annual leave until 8 April 2015 and Aidan’s case was not reassigned to another caseworker.

“In the early hours of 8 April 2015, Aidan spoke to both his mother and ex-partner, explaining he couldn’t go on and went out walking, taking a rope with him. The police were called but three hours later Aidan was found dead by dog walkers in Tilgate Park.”

Nancy Collins, a civil liberties lawyer at Hodge Jones & Allen, said : “Aidan’s family are devastated by his death. They were aware that he had been badly affected by what he had seen in Iraq and that the death of his brother a few years later had been hugely traumatic. They are concerned that despite his experiences and multiple suicide attempts, as well as the family’s attempts to get help for him from both the police and the NHS, he received almost no treatment for his mental health issues prior to his death.”

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