A teenage soldier is believed to have taken her own life after “an intense period of unwelcome behaviour” by one of her bosses, an Army investigation has found.
Royal Artillery Gunner Jaysley Beck was found dead at Larkhill Camp in Wiltshire in December 2021.
A service inquiry report describes “an intense period of unwelcome behaviour” and said it is “almost certain this was a causal factor” in the 19-year-old’s death.
In October 2021, Gunner Beck’s immediate boss sent her more than 1,000 WhatsApp messages and voicemails, according to the report. The next month this increased to over 3,500.
The Army investigation found her boss wanted a relationship with her, but she had a boyfriend and did not feel the same way.
“Whilst this behaviour ended the week before her death, it appears that it continued to affect her and had taken a significant toll on her mental resilience and wellbeing,” the report reads.
Gunner Beck’s mother Leighann McCready said: “It’s easy for people to say why don’t you block him, you’ve got to have respect for those above you and Jaysley did have respect, it wasn’t as straightforward as you can block your boss.
“She didn’t particularly want to cause any upset on his side, she was the kind of person who put others before herself.”
Ms McCready, of Oxen Park in Cumbria, said her daughter would ring the family saying his behaviour was becoming “increasingly worrying towards her”.
She added: “It was very apparent how it emotionally affected her.
"It took its toll on Jaysley, she was a very strong character, so for Jaysley to cry, there was something really hurting her feelings.”
Ms McCready described not being able to get hold of her daughter on 15 December 2021, then someone answering Gunner Beck’s phone who said “I’m sorry”.
Ms McCready said that is how she found out about her daughter’s death.
The report says family issues, including a bereavement, were also responsible for Gunner Beck’s death, which her family reject, the BBC reported.
The report added that Gunner Beck had no diagnosed mental health conditions and had not sought welfare support from anyone in the Army.
The inquiry into her death heard evidence from witnesses about inappropriate sexual behaviour by male soldiers towards their female colleagues at Larkhill.
The report says: “It was commonplace amongst a significant minority of soldiers within Larkhill Garrison.”
The report says measures to tackle this kind of behaviour were introduced as part of a new policy for the armed forces in November 2022.
Commenting on the report and Gunner Beck’s death, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said it was “very, very upsetting, very, very sad to read about it” and his thoughts were with her family.
He told BBC Breakfast: “In all walks of life whenever abuse takes place, but particularly in the British military, and the brave men and women put themselves forward to serve the country, that kind of behaviour (sexual harassment) would have no part at all in the British military.”
The family’s lawyer, Emma Norton, from the Centre for Military Justice, said: “It is hugely significant that the Army has admitted that this sexual harassment was a causative factor in her death.
“If there is one silver lining in this awful situation it is the fact that the Army has accepted that at this relatively early stage. I don’t think that would have happened a few years ago.
“The Army still has a systemic problem with misogyny and sexism. It’s taking steps to address this but they don’t go nearly far enough.
“Two recent independent reviews (Wigston and the Defence Committee Inquiry into Women in the Armed Forces) have recommended that the handling of serious sexual harassment and bullying cases must be taken away from the single services themselves and given to an independent (or semi-independent) body. And that sexual assault investigations should be handled by civilian police.
“Time after time the MoD rejects these calls. So when the MoD today tells you that it has a zero tolerance for sexual harassment or assault, it is important to bear that in mind. It seems they are only prepared to go so far.”
Ms McCready added: “She was just so loving, really had a heart of gold, would do anything for anyone. She always looked out for others and put others before herself.
“She was a very witty girl, a very mature girl. She was passionate about her career and was a strong member of her family and a loving sister to Emilli who is 24.”
Ms McCready said Gunner Beck was 16 when she joined the Army, she “loved her career” and was due to have a promotion.
An Army spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Gunner Jaysley-Louise Beck’s family and friends at this difficult time.
“The circumstances surrounding Gunner Beck’s death, including the cause, are still to be determined by the coroner.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further until the coroner’s inquest has been completed.”
If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available.
Call Samaritans on 116 123
Call the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) on 0800 58 58 58
See more links to advice and support here.
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