Wales

Dead soldier L/Sgt Dan Collins's 'stress disorder'

The girlfriend of a soldier who was found hanged in a quarry in Pembrokeshire says he suffered terribly from post traumatic stress disorder.

Welsh Guardsman L/Sgt Dan Collins, 29, of Tiers Cross, near Haverfordwest, was said to have regular nightmares and wake up screaming at night.

His partner of almost two years, Vicky Roach, told BBC Wales he had previously tried to take his own life.

An inquest was opened and adjourned into his death on Wednesday.

Officers were called to Pantmaenog Quarry in Rosebush shortly after 15:00 GMT on New Year's Day.

Dyfed-Powys Police said at the time they were treating the cause of death as "unexplained".

Bomb blasts

Ms Roach said: "What happened on Sunday was not the first attempt - it's been really tough.

"I've seen him try a few times and obviously the love he had for everyone else and the strength he had inside him pulled him through, but he struggled, he struggled a lot.

"We all did the best we can. The only comfort I've got is that now he's at peace."

L/Sgt Collins had served in Helmand Province in Afghanistan where he had lost two of his best friends.

Image caption His partner said he would scream out at night

He had also narrowly escaped death on several occasions being shot twice and being involved in two bomb blasts.

On one occasion a couple of years ago, he was shot by a Taliban sniper while on foot patrol with the Welsh Guards.

His life was saved by his body armour and he later met the man who had made the armour to thank him in person.

He met Ms Roach in February 2010 after returning home from Afghanistan but, although he was "full of life", she started to notice his unusual behaviour.

"There was one incident that I will always remember," she said.

'Screams and shouting'

"We were just walking through Tesco and the big, tall cages that they have, as they're being dragged along, they rattle quite loudly and that scared him, that really shocked him.

"It sounded like gunfire constantly going off. That was the first instance where he dropped to the floor."

There were also nightmares, screams and shouting at night which led to her asking him whether he should seek help.

Ms Roach said the Army was "brilliant" with the support it gave to L/Sgt Collins, and he received regular counselling.

But he was deeply troubled and found it difficult to talk openly to his family about his experiences, she added.

'Complete shock'

Image caption L/Sgt Dan Collins [R] was said to have suffered after the death of his friend L/Cpl Dane Elson [L]

"He couldn't open up. I think that was the only thing that would've helped him if he had opened up," said Ms Roach.

"As far as the hospital goes - the Army, his mum, me - we all gave him as much help as we could. We're just in complete shock.

"You couldn't tell with him, you couldn't tell sometimes how low he was because the fear of upsetting and letting us down - that was his biggest fear."

L/Sgt Collins was a big rugby fan who enjoyed watching Wales and playing for Haverfordwest.

His friend Jonathan Whitticombe, who played rugby with him, said he was in the process of being discharged from the Army and had been hoping to retrain as a fitness instructor.

"When he was in hospital he said he was better - I believed him," he said.

"Then a month may go by and he would slip back into his depression."

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