A BRITISH soldier suffering from PTSD after tours in Afghanistan and Iraq hanged himself in secluded woodland, an inquest has heard.

Warrant Officer Robert McAvoy, known as ‘Rab’, of the Royal Engineers, came off his antidepressant medication and refused help from welfare services because he thought it might prevent him getting a promotion within the Army.

The inquest heard the 39-year-old told his wife Emma to ‘put the pasta on for dinner’ as he left their home at the military base in Bovington to get a haircut, but never came back.

A missing person's search was launched to find him but his body was discovered in woodland about eight miles away later on the evening of March 26 this year.

The father-of-one had been put on a six month course of antidepressants by the Army’s welfare team in Germany after returning from his second trip to Afghanistan.

However, the couple moved back to the UK and WO McAvoy finished his prescription, refusing to go back on the drug, Sertraline, or seek any help from the unit's welfare team in the UK.

Mrs McAvoy said: "I could tell if he hadn’t taken one of the tablets.

"He wanted to come off them because he didn’t want to be downgraded for mental health problems.

"He loved being a soldier. He didn’t want it to affect any promotion in the future and that’s why he took himself off [antidepressants].

"He would have presented and said he was fine but he wasn't fine."

Mrs McAvoy told coroner Richard Middleton her husband had joined the army in January 1997.

The couple, who were married for 11 years, lived between Germany and Bovington in the UK.

WO McAvoy went to Iraq for the first time in 2003, then later in 2008. In 2013 he toured in Afghanistan, returning eight months later in 2014.

His wife said that up until that point, WO McAvoy was 'really fit physically and mentally'.

Speaking about his mood and mental health following the second trip to Afghanistan, Mrs McAvoy said: "Our marriage was coming to a breakdown.

"He just wasn’t the same person when he came back.

"He was quite needy when he was out there the second time."

WO McAvoy started to see the welfare services in Germany, while his wife prepared to move back to the UK.

However, in August 2014, he overdosed on 'tablets and alcohol' in an attempt to take his own life and was put on the course of antidepressants.

Mrs McAvoy added: "It was explained to me Rab had PTSD. It could have dated back to 2003 because it can take years to come in."

Returning to the UK, the couple got back together, living in Bovington.

However in 2018, WO McAvoy's father died, followed shortly by his older brother, John, but he declined more help from the Army’s welfare service.

Mrs McAvoy said her husband seemed 'sad', but threw himself into work, adding that 2019 was going to be ‘a good year’ for them.

At Bournemouth Coroner’s Court, Mrs McAvoy spoke, through tears, of the day her husband of 11 years died.

She said: “He came home, gave me a kiss and asked what was for dinner.

"He got changed and came back downstairs, said ‘put the pasta on, I’ll text when I'm leaving Dorchester' (where he said he was going for a haircut).

"He gave me a kiss, patted the dog, and that was it."

That evening, the inquest heard Mrs McAvoy got 'concerning' texts from her husband, that led her to go out searching for him, eventually calling the police to report him missing.

A friend, a fellow officer in the army who was not named, discovered his car parked in a clearing near the side of the road between nearby Lewell and Woodsford, just outside of Dorchester.

Giving evidence at the inquest, PC Simon Rogers, who searched the area where the car was found, said: "I saw off in the distance a body hanging from a tree.

"He had been dead for some time."

Following the death, the Army reviewed the case and produced a report known as a 'learning account'.

In a statement, unit welfare officer Amanda Walmsley said WO McAvoy was directed to the welfare team following the death of his father, but did not make contact.

Mr Middleton recorded a conclusion of suicide by hanging.

He said: "I don't believe the Army have made any error. They have gone through very thoroughly what happened."

Lieutenant Colonel Rotchell, who represented the British Army at the inquest, added: "I would like to pass on again on behalf of the Ministry of Defence and the Army our condolences."