Select Committee on Defence Written Evidence

Memorandum from Mrs Lynn Farr

  My solicitor Justin Hugheston-Roberts has forwardedyou a report that I have researched and produced re the deathsat Catterick as part of a joint submission from the CatterickFamilies. I have been involved heavily since the beginning ofthe campaign to secure a public inquiry into non-combat deathsand have worked closely with the Deepcut parents for nearly twoyears.

  My son Daniel died whilst serving at Catterickand with in 18 months of his death there were four other deaths.At the time I started to say that in such a short space of timethat was far too many but nobody would listen.

  Daniel had always wanted to join the army froma very young age, he was a fit young man when he enlisted wasenjoying the life. He did suffer from home sickness at one pointbut with the help of his captain at that time (now Major FosterBrown of the Royal Green Jackets) he settled. Captain Foster Brownwas impressed by Daniel's shooting as it was found he was a naturalshot and the scores he was getting were second to none. He wassingled out because of this.

  The week before he died he went absent fromduty and rang me and said would I collect him as he wanted totalk. He had tried to make his way home but ran out of money,because I took my younger son with me Daniel would not tell meanything; he said it didn't matter and would I take him back toCatterick. I did so but was extremely worried. I didn't hear fromDaniel all that week but on Friday I received a phone call askingme to pick him up from York Station. When I arrived I couldn'tfind Daniel, after a few minutes he appeared and was walking reallystrange and he was in pain. I asked him if he had reported itand he said no because if he had he would not have been allowedhome. It was obvious that something had happened to him duringthat last week as he was totally different from when I took himback; it seemed the spark had gone out in him. Because we livein a rural area I suggested that we went to York hospital andhe agreed. The doctors at York examined him and could find nothingwrong. Daniel said he had been on crutches for a stress fracturein the opposite leg to where there was pain. This was the firsttime ever that this had been mentioned and I honestly cannot remembera time when he did not come home at the weekends as we live inYorkshire he could get home most weekends. The doctors said itcould be the strain on his other leg that was causing him thepain with it having to take the extra pressure with him beingon crutches. We accepted this as they had really given him a goodexamination, they gave him some pain killers and told him to rest.He rested for most of the weekend but at one point he came intothe lounge with no shirt on I noticed some strange marks justa little higher than his waist across his back. I asked him whatthey were and he told me the were webbing burn, he was also veryquiet that weekend and would not talk about the weekend beforewhen he was absent without leave, so I thought everything hadbeen sorted out. I took him back to Catterick on Sunday tea timeas he was adamant that he was going back. I wanted to telephonethe camp but he said no he would have to go back; he seemed alittle worried. When we got to the camp he asked me to drive himon instead of dropping him at the gate which I always did. Thatwas the only thing that was different that day to the other dayswhen I took him back.

  The following day we had a call to say thatDaniel had pneumonia but it was nothing to worry about. We setoff up to Catterick and when we were nearly there we had a callto say the Daniel was really ill and was on a life support machine.When we arrived the doctors asked me about the marks on his bodyand I told them what Daniel had told me about webbing burn. Iam not sure what they thought. They tested him for everythingimaginable, the list was endless and they could find only pneumonia.They decided to transfer him to St Jame's Hospital in Leeds. Againthe marks were mentioned and the tests were done. The specialistin charge said to us that he had never seen anything like it;if it were an elderly man that had abused his body all his lifethen he could understand it but not in a fit young soldier. Danieldied on 10 June 1997 at approximately 3.00 am.

  The cause of death was pneumonia. The coronerin Leeds wanted an inquest, but within a few hours of this beingannounced we changed coroners to the North Yorkshire coroner (JeremyCave who is now in prison) who said that an inquest was not necessary.At this point you are very numb and go along with everything thatis told to you, and the army make you feel that you are the onlyone that this has ever happened to and they make you believe thatyou have no cause to doubt them.

  It took nearly six years before I received thepost mortem report which stated the cause of death was pneumonia;it also shows that it was only his lungs that were infected andthat the primary cause for the pneumonia could not be established.I have also been told of an incident in the gas chamber when Danielcould not get his mask on and had to be dragged out of the chambernearly unconscious then made to go on a two-mile run. Since researchingthe deaths I have found out that hard physical exercise shouldnot take place immediately after such training and also NBC trainingshould not take place immediately after a meal or a cold, as thiscould cause a chemical imbalance in the body. You will noticefrom the report that I did and a copy of which Mr Hugheston-Robertsmy solicitor sent you that other deaths have occurred at Catterickclassed as natural causes where fluid on the lungs was found.This I have been told by the parents who I am in touch with. WhenI asked about the outcome of the Board of Inquiry I was told thatbecause Daniel died in a civilian hospital there wasn't one. Ifind it very hard to believe that this could be the case.

  Since starting my website and researching thedeaths, families of young soldiers who have been bullied at Catterickhave come forward and I have helped in most cases and will continueto do so. I have also visited Catterick and spoken to the Commandingofficers at ITC regarding the deaths and the bullying that isstill taking place there and which I can confirm. I also notethat ITC Catterick have last September time got a new trainingofficer Lieutenant Colonel Strut, whom I have spoken to and whowas at that time writing a training programme on how NCOs trainand treat young recruits—is this a coincidence?

  I believe that looking at training issues isa good start as the correct type of training for the NCOs willensure a quality duty of care which we as parents expect fromthe armed forces. These are our children which we entrust to themand in some cases this duty of care is not upheld.

  I also note that the new Children Bill dealswith children from the ages of 0-19 years with various agenciesinvolved with children at all stages of their lives. Examplesof which for young people under 19: Connexions, Youth Justiceteams, social services, young offenders' institutions, young offenders'prisons, police, youth services. I find it strange that thereis no mention of armed forces. Do these young people fall outsidethe scope of this bill because of crown immunity? If so shouldthat immunity be lifted to include them in the bill. As this billdeals with the duty of care in civilian life should it not beexpanded into military life as well? Is this what Geoff Hoon relatedto in his speech in the commons on 27 April 2004 "that anindependent oversight of training arrangement and the dischargeof our care responsibilities be best carried out by an organisationexperienced in care issues of young recruits". If so thenthis is a good start. I already believe that the discharge ofduty of care has already happened.

  I also feel that changes should be looked atin recruiting as I feel that some young people go into the armyfor the wrong reasons. A common thread that keeps occurring whenspeaking to the soldiers that have been bullied is that they didn'tdo well at school, they were dyslexic or as some of their parentshave said they were a little slow. If any are going to be bullied,it is certainly these because they are different and need extrahelp. Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire offer an NVQ to youngpeople who are wanting to enter the uniformed services. They dothe very basics whilst living at home. Some do not finish thecourse as they realise that the army is not for them. Basic skillsare looked at and worked upon if needed and even if a young personfinds they do not want to join up help is at hand to look at andfor other employment. If the recruitment office in Hull feel anyoneis not ready for a life in the army they send them to the collegesfor this 20-week course. Could this or something similar be extendedto other areas of the country?

Lynn Farr

The Infantry Training Centre (lTC) Catterick openedin 1995 the first death occurred in that year.

21 Sept 1995 Pte Richard Robertson aged 17—BlackWatch

  This young soldier was 17 he was in the BlackWatch Regiment and was shot whilst on night exercise with a singlegun shot wound to the head. Richard was on crutches at the time,he should never have been on exercise and I am amazed how he couldcarry a SA80 never mind shoot himself with it. An open verdictwas brought the Coroner was Jeremy Cave[49]and witness are not talking. Army suggest suicide. Richard wason phase 2 of his training, phase I took place at Glencorse.

26 June 1996 Fus Mark Murray—Royal Regimentof Fusiliers

  Mark was again 18 and was with the Royal Regimentof Fusiliers. He was found shot in the head in the toilet blockson the Appleby shooting range again suicide was suggested. Athis funeral other recruits came forward and spoke to Mark's mumabout the incident. Mark was on the shooting range when his commandingofficer approached him and said something to him. Mark asked oneof his friends to look after his kit whilst he went with thisofficer, they headed towards the toilet block where he was laterfound. His friends said that Mark had been raped by this officerand that he was still being abused. Again the young recruits arenot speaking out at inquests.

1996 Pte C Needs—Green Howards

  Died in a car crash with his father.

1 December 1996 Pte Brian Isherwood aged 19—BlackWatch

  Brian was on phase 2 training at Catterick phaseone had been at Glencorse with Richard Robertson. Brian had comeout of the Army whilst at Glencorse but re enlisted at a laterdate. This is my son's (Daniel Farr) version of events, he rangme there had been a piece on the news about it and he did notwant me to worry. They had been on guard duty and all throughthe duty Brian had been saying at the end of the shift he wasgoing to shoot himself. His Sergeant told him not to be sillyand to get on with his job. At the end of his shift they wentback to barracks it is uncertain whether Brian went with them,the next they heard Brian had put the SA80 in his mouth and shothimself. (These recruits must have very long arms to do this witha rifle) Brian's mum never recovered from this and died shortlyafterwards. Verdict suicide.

10 June 1997 Daniel Farr aged 18—Princeof Wales Own Regiment of Yorkshire

  Daniel was 18 and on phase 2 training at Catterickphase I at Glencorse. Daniel had been at Catterick slightly longerthan need be as he had an ingrown toe nail problem. He contractedpneumonia and died within hours. He was taken to a civilian hospitalby his corporal and was transferred to St James Hospital in Leedswhere he died. One of the specialists at Leeds (and there werequite a few dealing with Daniel) commented that he had never seenanything like what was happening, he said if it had been an elderlyman who had abused his body then yes this could happen but foundit hard to believe in a fit young soldier. Because he died inLeeds the Leeds coroner wanted an inquest as his post mortem foundonly pneumonia within hours that day we were transferred to theNorth Yorkshire Coroner Jeremy Cave who said an inquest was notnecessary. It took six years for me to receive Daniel's post mortemreport and it is only this on 3 February this year that I foundthat Daniel never had a Board of Inquiry (BOI) when I questionedthis I was told it was because he died in a civilian hospital.If this is the case the Army took him there does that not count.Daniel had been AWOL the weekend before, I took him back to Catterickbut he would not speak to me. I have been told since of an incidentin the chamber when he could not get his gas mask on quickly enoughand had to be dragged out nearly unconscious then made to go ona run.

September 1997 Pte MD Merridith—CheshireRegiment

  I was in contact with this family shortly afterhe died. He had been complaining of pains in his chest and hadgone to bed he was later found dead in bed. Unfortunately I havelost contact with the family.

1997 Pte RD Flemming Paras

  Road traffic accident.

18 October 1998 Pte A J Elliott Royal AnglianRegiment

  Still researching this story verdict naturalcauses.

18 September 1998 Rfln William Beckley-Lines aged22—Royal Green Jackets[50]

  William died after completing a two-mile runhe must have been suffering whilst on the run as other soldiershad to drag him to the finish where he was pushed about by theNCOs. It is reported that he was refused medical treatment. Thefamily paid for a second Post Mortem to be carried out and bruisingin his genital area was discovered that had not been reportedin the first post mortem. His family are from Sierra Leone. Thearmy suggested that it was exhaustion and sickle cell anemia verdictnatural causes.

March 1999 Cpl D Conway Black Watch and J CuttingCheshire Regiment

  Road traffic accident.

April 1999 Fus MJB Case Royal Regiment of Fusiliers

  Still researching Accidental death accordingto Army records.

27 April 2000 Rfn 0 M Alford Royal Green Jackets

  Shot in South Africa whilst on leave.

30 April 2000 Pte Alan Sharples aged 20—QueensLancashire Regiment

  Found shot in the head suggestions of suicidehe had just got engaged and had everything to live for. Inquestlasted under 10 minutes no ballistic evidence given. Inquest andpost mortem papers have since gone missing. Coroner Jeremy Caveopen verdict given.

9 November 2000 Pte J R Leadbetter—Devon& Dorset Regiment

  Went absent without leave shortly before hedied. Four times the limit of drugs found in his system.

8 January 2001 Gds Paul Dennison aged 18—IrishGuard

  Paul was found hanged he was awaiting dischargefor a medical condition. Family still very traumatised by it alland will not speak.

9 February 2001 Rfn John McKenzie aged 17—RoyalGreen Jackets

  John was in the same regiment as William Beckley-Linesand died in similar circumstance He collapsed and died on a fivemile run no other apparent illness. Post mortem reveals fluidon his lungs. Inquest verdict Natural Cause.

Between 1999 and 2001 LSgt Leech Coldstream Gaurdsand Cpl Stephen Graham Died in separate traffic accidents

  That makes a total of 19 noncombat deaths onITC in six years. Some can easily be explained by road trafficaccidents but others can't and if in some cases it was suicidethen why are these young people taking their own lives, this mustbe identified. In the cases of natural causes, these are fit youngmen who volunteer to serve within the armed forces they are notconscripts dragged in off the streets.

  Whilst working on these cases other deaths cameto light from the main Catterick Garrison.

31 May 1989 Andrew Murphy aged 24—Army FieldShop Unit

  Married; recently returned from the Falklands;found dead in a house in Darlington.

1990 LCpl Perry Moore

  Army records state accidental death.

29 October 1991 Sgt Ian Graham aged 32—ArmyMedic

  CO poisoning; coroners verdict suicide. Missedgulf war; recovering from nervous breakdown.

19 March 1991 Sig Steven Pollitt aged 17

  Collapsed and died on off duty jog near sportsfield; allegations of bullying.

1992 according to MoD figures released in March2003 there were two more deaths in 1993 one more death, I cannot tie them to anyone but the MoD describe them as natural causesor RTAs

March 10 1993 Pte Kevin Forrest aged 19

  Found dead with girlfriend in fume filled car.Gulf War Veteran.

13 April 1994 Sig Brian Voyse aged 29

  CO poisoning; found dead in armoured car onSalisbury Plain; fumes accidentally pumped into car; verdict deathby misadventure.

October 1995 Peter Lawrence aged 22

  CO poisoning. Brother states he was desperateto leave the army but could not get a medical discharge. Verdictsuicide.

24 October 1995

  Gary Riches shot in Bosnia; insufficient evidencefor unlawful killing. Elaine Higgins one of my colleagues fromDeepcut & Beyond is taking on non combats that have occurredabroad.

September 1997 LCpl Andrew McDonald aged 30

  Andrew was found hanged verdict suicide.

31 January 1999 LCpl Jason Wallace aged 26 SommeBarracks

  Jason was found hanged by strap in barrackssuffered from Gulf War syndrome. Baby daughter died through gulfwar problems.

8 February 1999 Ian Brown aged 27

  Shot six times in the head by drunken soldierin charge of armoury. RIR killer jailed for life.

25 April Pte Robert Middleton aged 21 Somme Barracks

  Found hanged 12 weeks after LCpl Jason Wallace.Both were in the same regiment and on the same barracks; verdictsuicide.

15 April 2000 Andrew Thompson aged 30—TA

  Andrew died of a gunshot wound when his gunexploded. He was a shooting expert and had won prizes for shooting.Verdict accidental death. His girlfriend is taking out a privateprosecution as they are trying to blame Andrew for not handlingthe gun correctly.

April 2002 Sgt James McDonald

  Admitted to army hospital; found hanged; verdictsuicide.

7 July 2003 Derek McGregor aged 21 Army Medic

  Found hanged in barracks. Allegations that Derekhad been beaten by MPs prior to his death problems in NorthernIreland and Derek had been AWOL and taken to Catterick.

  Also because of press reports young recruitshave come forward with allegations of bullying at ITC Catterick.

  *** aged 18 from Chesterfield did phase I trainingat Bassingbourne where he did extremely well when he went to Catterickhe was bullied to such an extent that he was discharged on thegrounds of anxiety. He feels that the army have ruined his life

  *** aged 17 from Bishop Auckland has been bulliedto such an extent whilst at ITC that he has accrued 30 day absentwithout leave and has been sentenced to 15 days in the guard houseand then he can be discharged. This young man is so traumatisedby all this and has been AWOL since November 2003 at home. Hewas at one point persuaded to go back to Catterick so things couldbe sorted out he was there for four hours then went home again,*** says he would rather jump off a bridge than spend the timein the guard house. The army are insistent that he does his Sentencethen can be discharged. I have contacted Adam Ingram's officeon his behalf who agree with the army and have been told thatthis young man must go back to Catterick and if he did it wouldbe handled sensitively. When I said that they could possibly haveanother incident on their hands if they weren't careful, I wasaccused by Catterick of being too dramatic over the incident.*** court martial is in March.


  *** went AWOL from Catterick with allegationsof bullying and abuse by a senior officer. He was put in touchwith me and has now been discharged from the army.

April 2004

49   Jeremy Cave is now serving three years for fraudhe was sentenced February 2003, Mr Cave has dealt with the majorityof deaths at ITC up to 2001. Back

50   Two other soldiers died as a result of a run both had fluid ontheir lungs William Beckley-Lines and John McKenzie. Back

previous pagecontentsnext page

House of Commons home pageParliament home pageHouse of Lords home pagesearch pageenquiriesindex

© Parliamentary copyright 2005
Prepared 14 March 2005