Soldier suicide in Windsor prompts coroner to issue recommendations

Image source, Angela Robinson
Image caption,
Joel Robinson's mother said he was a "warm young man" and a "gifted horseman"

A soldier's suicide has prompted a coroner to issue a series of recommendations to the Army to prevent similar deaths in the future.

L/Cpl Joel Robinson, 24, was found hanged in a common room at Combermere Barracks in Windsor on 25 March 2019.

An inquest in Reading heard he had felt passed over for promotion after raising a bullying complaint.

Coroner Heidi Connor, who recorded a conclusion of suicide, has made four recommendations to the Army.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
L/Cpl Joel Robinson was found dead in a common room at Combermere Barracks in Windsor

Mrs Connor said her impression was that the Army had not gone "much further than acknowledging" the problem of suicide in its ranks.

The recommendations in the report to prevent future deaths are:

  • A clear timeline for the suicide prevention group putting strategies in place
  • Consideration given to identifying key suicide risk factors and practical terms to reduce risk
  • A regular review to screen soldiers' mental health
  • Addressing awareness over the handling of service complaints

The inquest was previously told that L/Cpl Robinson was in the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, and that he was found dead hours after a night of drinking with friends.

His mother, Angela Robinson, told the court her son felt "worthless" before his death after being repeatedly passed over for promotion.

He had made a service complaint in 2018 alleging bullying but was discouraged from pursuing action on the basis it would affect his prospects, his mother added.

The court heard his senior officers did not refer the soldier to medical or welfare teams, despite him telling them in a letter he was struggling.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
L/Cpl Joel Robinson (not pictured here) served with the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment

In a statement released after the inquest, Mrs Robinson said: "Young soldiers are not being offered help quickly enough and suicide rates seem to be going up and up.

"Joel was very badly let down."

Emma Norton, a family solicitor from the Centre for Military Justice, said: "The Army and MoD will say, as they always do, that they do not tolerate bullying.

"But until they introduce a measure of independence into the complaints process - as was recommended by a review more than two years ago - sad cases like this are likely to recur."

A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "The death of Lance Corporal Joel Robinson was a tragedy and our sympathies remain with his family and friends at this sad time.

"We are grateful for the coroner's observations. We will review the areas identified and provide a full response in due course."

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