Sergeant James Byrne, 29, was in the 1st Battalion of the First Fusiliers and was a heavyweight boxing champion (Pictures: MEN Media)
An ‘outstanding soldier and leader’ who severely struggled with his mental health after serving in Afghanistan eventually died by suicide.
Sergeant James Byrne, 29, was found dead on May 12. He had served in the 1st Battalion of the First Fusiliers for over 11 years.
This faction of the army describes its team as ‘tough partners in combat’ and ‘no-nonsense soldiers who take on any challenge’.
Sergeant Byrne, from Huddersfield in West Yorkshire, was one of these soldiers helping deliver ‘direct action through fire and manoeuvre’ in Canada and Estonia.
He was then deployed to Afghanistan in 2013 where he witnessed horrific scenes, Bradford Coroner’s Court heard.
Sergeant Byrne suffered from mental health issues for some time but things became more serious in 2017.
He grappled with depression, loneliness, drinking problems and grief over the death of his grandma, and got into debt.
The soldier, who was also a heavyweight champion boxer, was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in January this year.
Sergeant Byrne was described as an ‘outstanding soldier and leader’ (Picture: MEN Media)
He was also a heavyweight boxing champion (Picture: MEN Media)
This led to Sergeant Byrne being listed on the Severe Mental Health Register – which means he received regular medical care.
Assistant coroner Angela Brocklehurst said yesterday: ‘It’s clear that significant efforts have been made to locate and support him during these difficult times. I think that needs to be noted.’
The Army also tried to help with Sergeant Byrne’s financial issues, by giving him a loan.
Colleagues had also ‘demonstrated a significant amount of concern for Sergeant Byrne’.
His Fusilier team has been described as a ‘family known for [their] strong bonds and lifelong support’.
Despite all this Sergeant Byrne tried to poison himself in March.
Although this did not work, the soldier went on to kill himself two months later near a local golf club.
His body was found on May 12 after he had sent a pin drop location to one of his colleagues. He left a touching goodbye message for his loved ones.
Coroner Brocklehurst said Sergeant Byrne was a ‘fiercely loyal serviceman’ but ‘none of us know what the inside of a person’s head is all about’.
Speaking directly to to the soldier’s mum and his step-dad, she added: ‘I send my sincere sympathy to the family on your tragic loss.
‘A grief that’s very hard to bear and which you will feel for many years to come.
‘Please carry with you a pride in your son for the amazing man he was, not only in the boxing ring but to earn the respect of the people around him and the service he has given to this country.’
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