Army accepts bullying was among factors in 'tragic' suicide of military policewoman

Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, who committed suicide in October 2011
Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, who committed suicide in October 2011. Photo: Family Handout

Bullying within the Army was among the factors that led to the suicide of a military policewoman, an inquest has found.

Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement hanged herself at Bulford Barracks in Wiltshere, two years after alleging that she had been raped by two soldiers in Germany.

The ruling found that bullying, the lingering effect of that alleged incident, "work-related despair" and a romantic break-up all contributed to the 30-year-old's decision to kill herself.

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Delivering his ruling, coroner Nicholas Reinberg called for a review of armed forces care for vulnerable soldiers.

He said that the transfer of information about Cpl Ellement's fragile state upon her transfer back to the UK was "unforgivably bad".

The finding prompted celebrations from Cpl Ellement's family - who had been through two inquests and three years of anguish to get to this point.

Significantly, it also led to a public apology from the Army and a promise to learn from the mistakes that led to the tragic case.

A family handout image of Cpl Ellement
Cpl Ellement alleged that she had been raped by two soldiers in Germany Credit: Family handout

Brigadier John Donnelly, director of personnel services for the MoD, said: "The Army deeply regrets the tragic death of Cpl Anne-Marie Ellement and although there were aspects of her care that were praised, I want to apologise to her family for the failures that the coroner has identified.

"This second inquest has been an extremely thorough investigation by Her Majesty's coroner and Anne-Marie's family has shown great dignity throughout.

"We now have a clear understanding of the complex circumstances surrounding her death and where the Army needs to learn lessons."

Cpl Ellement's sister, Sharon Hardy, reads a statement surrounded by family
Cpl Ellement's sister, Sharon Hardy, reads a statement surrounded by family. Credit: ITV News

Speaking on behalf of the family outside the inquest, Cpl Ellement's sister Sharon Hardy said the family was "delighted" with the verdict and recommendations of the coroner.

"Victims of sexual abuse in the Army need proper support, which the coroner has recognised, and we are delighted with his recommendations," she said.