UK & World News
'Bullying A Factor' In Female Soldier's Suicide
A female soldier who hanged herself at an Army barracks was bullied after alleging she was raped, a coroner has ruled.
Nicholas Rheinberg ordered the Army to review its care of vulnerable soldiers following Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement's death at Bulford Barracks in Wiltshire.
Bullying, the "lingering" mental effects of an alleged rape, "work-related despair" and a romantic break-up were all factors, Mr Rheinberg said.
Two years before her death Corporal Ellement accused two soldiers of raping her while stationed in Germany - an allegation that did not lead to charges.
In a statement read outside court in Salisbury, her family welcomed the coroner's conclusions - which come more than two years after her death in October 2011.
Her sister, Sharon Hardy, said: "The family are delighted with this verdict we have today.
"The coroner has confirmed what we have always known - that Anne-Marie was treated appallingly and let down by the Army.
"She was never able to recover from the allegation of rape she made in Germany.
"She then suffered bullying by the Army and was subjected to unacceptable work practices.
"Victims of sexual abuse in the Army need proper support, which the coroner has recognised, and we are delighted with his recommendations."
Mr Rheinberg said that, although the care given to Corporal Ellement in the aftermath of her rape allegation had been of "high quality", the transfer of information when she returned to the UK was "unforgivably bad".
He ruled that she was subject to two periods of bullying.
The first involved the girlfriend of one the alleged rapists. The second saw her superior officer, Staff Sergeant Julian Clark, write a derogatory post on Facebook about her work.
Mr Rheinberg said the latter troubled Corporal Ellement, who was 30 when she died, "again and again".
The coroner identified a recent relationship as another significant factor, and explained how the deceased suffered sexual abuse and bullying as a child.
A previous inquest in March 2012 recorded a conclusion that Corporal Ellement, originally from Bournemouth in Dorset, took her own life - but the High Court ordered a fresh hearing.
Bridgadier John Donnelly, director of personal services for the Army, said: "The Army deeply regrets the tragic death of Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement and although there were aspects of her care that were praised, I want to apologise to her family for the failures the coroner has identified.
"This second inquest has been an extremely thorough investigation, and Anne-Marie's family has shown great dignity throughout.
"We now have a clear understanding of the complex circumstances surrounding her death and where the Army needs to learn lessons.
"Our priority is to study the coroner's conclusions and then identify what further steps can be taken, to help prevent a recurrence of this kind of tragedy in the future.
"At present, however, our thoughts and sympathy lie with Anne-Marie's family and her friends at this difficult time."
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or CALM on 0800 58 58 58.
:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.