THE Army has apologised for its failures in the case of a Bournemouth soldier who took her own life.
A coroner found the ‘lingering’ effects of an alleged rape were a factor in 30-year-old Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement’s death, along with ‘work-related despair’ and a romantic break-up.
Salisbury coroner Nicholas Rheinberg concluded that Corporal Ellement hanged herself at Bulford Barracks in Wiltshire, in October 2011, two years after she alleged that two soldiers raped her while she was stationed in Germany.
Although the care given to Cpl Ellement in the aftermath of the allegation had been of ‘high quality’, the transfer of information when she returned to the UK had been ‘unforgivably bad’.
In a statement read outside court, Cpl Ellement’s sister, Sharon Hardy, from Christchurch, said the coroner had confirmed Cpl Ellement 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 added.
"She then suffered bullying by the Army and was subjected to unacceptable work practices.”
The three-week inquest heard that Cpl Ellement had been ‘devastated’ by the decision not to prosecute the alleged rapists.
Mr Rheinberg said Cpl Ellement was placed on the army’s sexual vulnerability risk assessment register but this information was not transferred when she was brought to the UK.
He said: "I find the welfare provided in Germany was good but the transfer of information unforgivably bad."
Mr Rheinberg said he believed Cpl Ellement had been bullied twice – once by the girlfriend of one of her alleged rapists in Germany and again in 2011 at Bulford, when Staff Sergreant Julian Clark made a post on Facebook deriding the quality of work he was inspecting.
Mr Rheinberg other factors in Cpl Ellement's suicide were her perception that she was over-worked and a relationship breakdown.
Following the inquest, Brigadier John Donnelly, director of personnel services for the MoD, said: "The Army deeply regrets the tragic death of Cpl Anne-Marie Ellement and although there were aspects of her care that were praised, I want to apologise to her family for the failures that the coroner has identified.
“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.”
Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood, a former army captain, said: “It’s a very tragic case and I think there are many lessons for the army to recognise.
“We pride ourselves on having one of the most professional, committed and best armed forces in the world. It’s for that reason that rare incidents such as this must be exposed to ensure they don’t happen again.”