A FORMER rifleman struggled to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder after the death of close colleagues during operational tours, an inquest has heard.

Jamie Davis, who was well known throughout the Dorset rugby community, was found deceased in his van at the Testwood Recreation Ground car park in Totton in the early hours on January 11 this year.

Bridport Rugby Club paid tribute to Mr Davis when they hosted his former team, East Dorset Rugby Club, following his death.

An inquest held by video link at Winchester Coroner’s Court heard that the father of two felt “ashamed” of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which had developed after tours of Iraq and Afghanistan with the 4th Battalion the Rifles.

Area coroner Jason Pegg, who recorded a conclusion of suicide, said it was “very, very sad” that Mr Davis, aged 30, felt the way he did given the disorder had come after serving his country.

Describing her husband during the inquest, Alicia Davis said: “Jamie was one of those people with a huge heart. He would do anything for anybody. You couldn’t help but love him.

“He was a big child stuck in a man’s body is the only way to describe him.

“He was a hell of a dad. He was always there when I needed him, when the boys needed him, but he was ashamed of his PTSD.”

Mrs Davis told the hearing her partner joined the armed forces in his late teens and during a tour of Afghanistan his section commander was killed, while he suffered shrapnel injuries to his knee, buttock and arm.

She said that he had spoken of his “guilt” that others had lost their lives.

He left the military in 2015, but Mr Davis did not want people to know about his PTSD due to fears it was impact on his chances of getting a job, the inquest heard.

Mr Davis suffered from “night terrors” and “split his life into so many segments” in an effort to cope but in the end his wife said “it all fell apart”.

Mrs Davis said her husband was unsuccessful in attempting to join the Special Forces due to his shrapnel injuries.

In October 2018, Mr Davis attempted to get help through the Veterans’ Mental Health Transitions, Intervention and Liaison Service, however, he was discharged by Dorset Healthcare in early 2019 having missed several appointments.

Mrs Davis told the inquest he had struggled to attend appointments as they were some distance away and he could not take time off work, as the income was needed to support the family.

He moved out of the family home in July 2019 as a consequence of his PTSD, with it impacting on his family life, and he had a “relationship of sorts” with friend Sian Millins, the inquest heard.

The coroner said by January of this year, Mr Davis was in a “very bad place”.

He had been turned down for a job in the Territorial Army on January 6 and suffered a bad injury to his knee playing rugby on January 5.

On January 10, Mr Davis sent messages to his wife, Ms Mullins and on a WhatsApp group of his East Dorset Rugby Club colleagues. Mrs Davis and Ms Mullins contacted police who launched a missing person search. Rugby teammate Sam Anstey attempted to find his friend and located Mr Davis inside his van at the recreation ground car park, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem recorded the cause of Mr Davis’s death as hanging.

Mrs Davis told the hearing that several of Mr Davis’s armed forces colleagues had sought help for PTSD following his death.

Mr Pegg said: “It is very, very sad that Jamie Davis was ashamed of his post-traumatic stress disorder, something which was in consequence of his service for this country.

“But it is good to hear that following his well-attended funeral, former rifleman colleagues it seems that they may well have been persuaded themselves to seek assistance for their post-traumatic stress disorder, which is obviously a very good thing, but how that came about is desperately sad at the loss of Jamie Davis.”

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