An investigation into the unexplained death of a British soldier whose body was left to decompose in his barracks for three weeks has found serious failings in the Army’s duty of care.
The internal probe was launched after the corpse of Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan, 33, was discovered in Catterick Barracks, North Yorkshire, on January 23 last year.
The father-of-one’s body was found in a state of decomposition after laying undiscovered for an astonishing 21 days – without anyone realising he was missing.
Part of the Army’s Service Inquiry Report, which has not yet been released to the public, reads: ‘Failings in the proper management of personnel led to the delay in the discovery of L/Cpl Mongan’.
Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan, 33, (pictured) was discovered in Catterick Barracks, North Yorkshire, on January 23 last year
The damning report also reveals how L/Cpl Mongan had made several complaints of bullying which had not been properly looked into.
Meanwhile, concerns about the Royal Signals soldier’s welfare were not adequately passed on.
The panel leading the inquiry said the report ‘makes for sobering reading’.
L/Cpl Mongan had been spending his Christmas break in his room at Catterick Barracks ahead of starting an attachment with the Army’s 77 Brigade in Berkshire on January 7 last year.
However neither camp realised that he was missing, despite duty officers in Catterick being told to get in touch with those staying in over Christmas to ‘ensure they are safe and well.’
The inquiry found the plan had ‘not been communicated and implemented as effectively as it should have’.
Despite L/Cpl not showing up to work at Hermitage Camp in the new year, his superiors did not notice his absence as there was no roll call or head count – a fact the report said was ‘distressing’.
The tragic soldier had complained that he was being bullied in the run up to his unexplained death and he even kept a record of his ‘perceived mistreatment’ – but the panel found his allegations had not been sufficiently investigated.
No one realised that L/Cpl Mongan (pictured) was missing, despite duty officers in Catterick being told to get in touch with those staying in over Christmas to ‘ensure they are safe and well’
It came after he was seriously assaulted in Catterick in November 2018.
While that attack was being probed by the Royal Military Police, support for L/Cpl Mongan was ‘not effective’, the report found.
It came after a reported suicide attempt by the soldier in 2016 , which was not passed on to the relevant superiors, the report added.
Meanwhile, one witness recalled how they had seen the corporal ‘sat on his bed…uncontrollably crying’, as recently as 2019.
After reading the report, L/Cpl Mongan’s wife Beth, from whom he was separated, said: ‘It’s clear Bernie felt bullied and his mental health suffered’.
The pair, who shared a child, had kept in contact.
She added: ‘He was telling people he was afraid and he was not checked properly in the days before he died’.
The unexplained death of Bernard Mongan occurred at Catterick Barracks in North Yorkshire
Emma Norton, who runs the Centre for Military Justice, said the failings bear a striking similarity to other cases – including the 2011 death of Cpl Anne-Marie Ellement.
‘Despite all the reassurances to the family in that case… the Army now appears to admit that the same thing happened to Bernie,’ she said.
In a statement, Brig Edward Chamberlain, head of the Army Personnel Services Group, said: ‘There were clearly failings in our duty of care to Lance Corporal Mongan.
‘The delay in discovering he was deceased was unacceptable and profoundly regrettable. We are truly sorry that such a situation should have arisen.’
He said the wellbeing of Army servicemen and women was ‘critical’, adding: ‘In this case, we fell short of the standard which our armed forces and their families are entitled to expect, and for that we apologise.
‘We will implement all the recommendations in the Service Inquiry to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.’
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