Great Britain

Best friend of Lee Rigby took his own life after horror of squaddie’s brutal murder and service in Afghanistan

LEE Rigby's soldier pal tragically took his own life after struggling with his mental health following the horrific murder of his best mate.

Dean Corbett's family paid tribute to the hero veteran as they revealed how he never recovered from witnessing the horrors of war and shocking death of Lee.

Relatives of the dad-of-one revealed his mental health battle as they laid him to rest on Friday - revealing how he was "different" after Afghanistan and Lee's death, reports the Mirror.

Dean and Lee were "inseparable" as they forged a firm friendship and bravely served together in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, including tours in Afghanistan.

They also served together in their unit's drums platoon - with Dean playing the flute and bugle.

He was nicknamed "Ronnie" and was known for his jokes and banter, with pals describing him and Lee as a like a comedy double act.

The 32-year-old shed a tear as he was one of the pallbearers who carried Lee's coffin into Bury Parish Church following his murder by terrorists in Woolwich on May 22, 2013.

Dean's mum Karen, 50, slammed the Army for not doing enough to help him, while Lee's mum Lyn called his death "heartbreaking".

He served in Afghanistan in 2009, and then went back in 2012 to help with projects to rebuild the war-torn nation.

The soldier also served in Kenya in 2011, and in Jordan in 2013 before leaving the forces as a corporal in 2017.

His family said he started suffering anxiety and was left "constantly on edge" following his time at war.

Karen said: "He was never like that before he joined the Army. He was a comedian, joking and messing around and the life and soul of the party.

“Not enough is being done for young men and women in the Army to help them overcome trauma.”

Pals added Lee's death impacted Dean in "unimaginable" ways due to their close bond

Dean was found dead at his flat in Urmston, Greater Manchester, four weeks ago and left behind a five-year-old son named Lewis.

His family believes the coronavirus lockdown impacted Dean's already fragile state of mind.

Only 30 family and friends were allowed inside Our Lady and the English Martyrs Catholic Church due to coronavirus restrictions.

His carriage was decked out with flowers says "Brother", "Dad" and "Ronnie" as 250 mourners gathered outside to watch his funeral on a large screen.

His younger sister Abigail Hessing, 26, said: “Dean bottled everything up.

"He cried on the day of Lee’s funeral but he would still not talk about it because he was a soldier and soldiers don’t do that.”

Dean's older sister Faye, 33, added: "He was different after Afghanistan and after Lee Rigby’s death although he tried very hard not to show it, keeping up a bluff, friendly front.

“He and Lee were very close and I know he was deeply upset but he wasn’t offered support afterwards."

She described him as a "bag of nerves" - even being fearful when he went trick or treating with the family at Halloween.

Faye added: "He didn’t think he needed it because he was a man’s man who would not talk about his emotions or feelings.

"He wanted to be out with his mates, not saying he couldn’t go for a pint because he had to see a therapist.

“The last two years of his life were the worst. He became really jumpy and irritable and stopped caring, growing an unkempt beard."

Drummer Matt Barlow, 32, a pallbearer and best man at Dean’s wedding, said: “We went everywhere together wherever we deployed.

“There was a small, tight-knit group of us. The banter between Lee and Dean was unbelievable.

"They’d never let up having a go at one another for a laugh. It was like a comedy script.

“It went on all the time, when we were on patrol or when we were socialising.

"Dean would never stop going on about how much Lee loved S Club 7 and Westlife.

“Lee’s death affected Dean in ways that are unimaginable to normal society. But Dean was a soldier’s soldier and his blood ran green like the colour of his uniform.”

Lee, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, was killed aged 25 outside his barracks in Woolwich in a crime that shocked Britain.

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale had circled the barracks in a blue Vauxhall Tigra for an hour hunting for a victim when the spotted Lee.

As Lee crossed the road, the pair spotted his Help 4 Heroes hoodie and mowed him down in the car.

They then attacked him with knives and a meat cleaver in front of horrified onlookers.

Adebolajo told onlookers to call the police and urged them to film him as he launched into a rant, his hands soaked in Lee's blood.

The pair waited for armed cops to arrive, then charged at the patrol car hoping to be martyred. They were both shot and injured.

His pal Dean's coffin was led out of the church to a recording of the Great Escape by the Corps of Drums, which including him playing second flute.

Father Kieren Mullarkey said: "He loved the banter with his friends and he loved his family. He was a big softie."

Lee Rigby’s mum says she is being forced out of refuge charity house that keeps murdered soldier’s memory alive

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