THE best friend of a 21-year-old soldier found hanged near Blandford Camp has told an inquest how he feared for his mental health.

Daniel O’Grady’s body was found at Black Lane, Blandford on Wednesday February 2, more than 24 hours after he went missing.

Joe Milton, who was a fellow trainee soldier and roommate, told the Bournemouth inquest: “He questioned his own mental health. I wanted him to open up to members of staff that he could talk to but he was more worried about how it would affect his career. He discussed it with other trainees on the course.”

Mr Milton told the inquest he believed Mr O’Grady had been taking Modafinil, a so-called smart drug used to treat sleepiness and enhance cognitive function. The drug is prescription-only but the inquest heard Mr O’Grady had been ordering it online.

Assistant Dorset Coroner Brendan Allen was told that Mr O’Grady had been the victim of an assault at Blandford Camp in October last year but Mr Milton said: “It was deemed provoked at the time - he didn’t seem too bothered by it.”

He had also fallen out with Mr Milton in January this year and had been the subject of allegations made by another trainee, all of which had been discounted. He and another trainee had argued over a girl, the inquest was told.

His mum, Angela O’Grady, said she believed her son was happy in the Army and added: “He had a couple of teething problems but he loved it.

“He said he had found his niche in life. He said he wanted to go to Afghanistan so he could buy a house. He was full of it - he said he had a great career.”

The inquest heard Mr O’Grady was missing from the room he shared with five other soldiers on the morning of Tuesday February 19 this year. His body was found the following morning.

The coroner was told that soldiers are not deemed to be AWOL - Absent Without Leave - until they have been missing for 48 hours and that it is not unusual for soldiers to go missing for short periods of time.

The inquest continues.