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Inquest into death of 29-year-old former soldier from West Sussex set to reopen

Venue: Coroner’s Court, Century House, Woodfield Road, Crawley, West Sussex
Date: 3-4 July and 7 July 2017 at 10 am

An inquest examining the circumstances surrounding the death of 29-year-old ex-soldier and father of three, Aidan Knight, from Crawley in West Sussex, will re-open today, Monday 3 July.

Aidan, who had been diagnosed with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), was found hanging from a tree in Tilgate Park in Crawley on 8 April 2015. His death followed numerous suicide attempts made over the previous six months.

The inquest, which began in November 2016 has heard evidence concerning the actions of Sussex Police, the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and West Sussex County Council in the days and months leading up to Aidan’s death. The family seek to understand why Aidan was not identified as being at high risk, why his treatment was delayed and the adequacy of response of the authorities in the hours leading up to his death.

Aidan joined the army aged 17 and fought in Iraq. He left after five years and confided in his mother that he had seen ‘too much death’ during the conflict. Aidan was deeply distressed by his brother’s death in 2012.

In October 2014, Aidan took an overdose of Diazepam, in the first of four suicide attempts over a short period of time. Despite assessments by police and NHS psychiatrists, some of which recorded symptoms of PTSD, Aidan was not considered high risk enough to be admitted to hospital and did not receive treatment.

Aidan continued to experience distress and on 5 March 2015 went to A&E at East Surrey Hospital to seek help. A psychiatric nurse diagnosed Aidan as suffering with symptoms of PTSD and advised that he would be contacted by the Community Mental Health Team. Aidan was assessed by the Community Mental Health Team on 10 March. He was referred to a mental health liaison practitioner. However, due to deficiencies in the assessment process (it was not in the standard format and did not include a formalised or documented risk assessment), Aidan’s need for a practitioner was not confirmed until 26 March. In the meantime, Aidan had visited his GP about the lack of follow up from the Community Mental Health Team and had been prescribed anti-depressants.

Over the following month, Aidan’s family became increasingly concerned about his behaviour and the fact that he continued to voice suicidal thoughts. The mental health practitioner assigned Aidan’s case was on annual leave until 8 April 2015 and Aidan’s case was not reassigned to another caseworker.

In the early hours of 8 April 2015, Aidan spoke to both his mother and ex-partner, explaining he couldn’t go on and went out walking, taking a rope with him. The police were called but three hours later Aidan was found dead by dog walkers in Tilgate Park.

Nancy Collins, a civil liberties lawyer at London law firm, Hodge Jones & Allen is representing Aidan’s family. She says: “Aidan’s family are devastated by his death. They were aware that he had been badly affected by what he had seen in Iraq and that the death of his brother a few years later had been hugely traumatic. They are concerned that despite his experiences and multiple suicide attempts, as well as the family’s attempts to get help for him from both the police and the NHS, he received almost no treatment for his mental health issues prior to his death.”


For further information, please contact:
Kerry Jack or Louise Eckersley at Black Letter Communications or
020 3567 1208

Notes for Editors

Hodge Jones and Allen

  • Hodge Jones and Allen is one of the UK’s most progressive law firms, renowned for doing things differently and fighting injustice. Its managing partner is Patrick Allen, recently awarded a lifetime achievement award by Solicitors Journal.
  • For 40 years’ the firm has been at the centre of many of the UK’s landmark legal cases that have changed the lives and rights of many people.
  • The firm’s team of specialists have been operating across: Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Industrial Disease, Civil Liberties, Criminal Defence, Court of Protection, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Family Law, Military Claims, Serious Fraud, Social Housing, Wills & Probate and Property Disputes.
  • In 2016, the firm launched Hearing their voices – a campaign to raise awareness and build conversations around the issues and the injustices we might all face.