Burnley Gulf War veteran (32) killed himself

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A GULF War veteran traumatised by his service killed himself after failing to overcome his demons.

In 2003, Shaun Smith (32) was found dead with a pipe leading into his car parked at the top of Wiseman Street.

He was said to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) brought on by the horrific sights he witnessed during the first Gulf War in 1991 following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

An inquest at Burnley Coroner’s Court, held this week after a number of adjournments in the preceding years, concluded that Mr Smith, of Wavell Street, Burnley, had deliberately taken his own life.

A post-mortem examination conducted by Dr Zuhair Twaij found he had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The inquest heard that the former Towneley High School pupil joined the Army’s Royal Pioneer Corps aged 19 and was posted immediately to Kuwait after completing training.

He was attached to the 7th Field Ambulance Unit with the 7th Armoured Brigade when he witnessed “terrible sights”.

His unit was escorting stores and ammunition from the airport to Al-Duball when it came under attack. He witnessed severe injuries to comrades and deaths.

Speaking in 2003, his father Peter said: “You can imagine the things he saw. Some of the stories he told me were horrific.”

In 1995, Mr Smith was posted to Northern Ireland where he began to suffer flashbacks, frequent nightmares and intrusive thoughts. He had trouble talking about his feelings and was diagnosed with severe depression but continued his Army career.

He was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal in 1997 and stationed in Germany, but was still depressed and took at least three overdoses. The following year he was admitted to hospital following an overdose of paracetamol.

Mr Smith was discharged from the Army on medical grounds in March 1999, but in the following years he made further attempts on his life including jumping from a bridge into a river in 2002. He was also said to be drinking heavily.

East Lancashire Coroner Mr Richard Taylor was told that his family wanted Mr Smith to be treated at the Ty Gwyn independent hospital, North Wales, but Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale PCT wanted to try all local resources first.

His mother Jacqueline said: “He couldn’t get the help he wanted. We feel very aggrieved Shaun did not get more support.”