United Kingdom

British soldier, 23, hanged himself at hotel in Estonia after night out, inquest hears

A serving British soldier was found 'hanged' in the grounds of a hotel in Estonia after a night out, an inquest has ruled.

Sam Brownridge - a 23-year-old fusilier who served with The First Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers - had spent the day off from a NATO mission in July last year shopping and karting in the capital Tallinn.

CCTV later captured him leaving a nightclub at 1.35am on July 5 and returning to the Lavendel Spa Hotel 27 minutes later.

The father-of-one hanged himself near the hotel's play area and his body was discovered later that morning.

South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh yesterday ruled that Brownridge, from Cannock, died by suicide.

Sam Brownridge (above) was found 'hanged' in the grounds of a hotel in Estonia after a night out, an inquest has ruled. The 23-year-old fusilier, who served with The First Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, had spent the day off from a NATO mission in July last year shopping and karting in the capital Tallinn

CCTV captured Brownridge leaving a nightclub at 1.35am on July 5 and returning to the Lavendel Spa Hotel (pictured) 27 minutes later. The father-of-one hanged himself near the hotel's play area and his body was discovered later that morning. Yesterday, South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh ruled that Brownridge, from Cannock, died by suicide

The Royal Military Police carried out their own investigation into the soldier's death. It found there was no third-party involvement.

The Ministry of Defence had previously said that Brownridge had died from a 'non-battle injury' while deployed on the NATO mission - codenamed Operation Cabrit - in Estonia. His funeral was held at Stafford Crematorium last July.

In a statement to the inquest, Staff Sergeant Matthew Shelton said: 'In the day preceding his death, he was described as being very happy and more outgoing than usual.

'His colleagues indicated he was happier than usual, willing to spend more money and being in better spirits than they had seen him. He bought new clothing and jewellery. He was asking people to take photos with him which was unusual for him.

'CCTV indicated him leaving the club at 1.35am and coming into the hotel at 2.02am.

'There is further CCTV from the spa hotel which shows Sam walking through the dining area at 2.02am. He was eating and drinking, he had a bottle of water and a box of crisps. He stopped halfway through the room.'

The investigation found that Brownridge had researched 'suicide' on the internet on June 23 and 29.

The Ministry of Defence had previously said that Brownridge had died from a 'non-battle injury' while deployed on the NATO mission - codenamed Operation Cabrit - in Estonia. His funeral (procession, above) was held at Stafford Crematorium last July

Above, people pay their respects on the day of the soldier's funeral. In a statement to the inquest, Staff Sergeant Matthew Shelton said: 'In the day preceding his death, [Sam] was described as being very happy and more outgoing than usual'

Sgt Shelton added: 'Sam's body was found at 8.30am by one of his colleagues.

'All accounts show he was a good soldier. There were no issues and he was well liked by members of the unit. He was looking to move across to Colchester.'

Mr Haigh gave the cause of death as 'partial suspension hanging'.

He said: 'It does appear there were pressures on his relationship. He had no significant psychiatric history. We are aware that he had researched suicide on the internet on June 23 and 29 and at one time had mentioned to his mother that he didn't want to go on.

'On July 4, he went on leave with his colleagues and had an enjoyable time, his behaviour was brighter than it had been recently. Sam returned to the hotel soon after 2am - and, soon after that, he hanged himself.

'From the evidence we have, there is no clear indication that he was going to harm himself and the precise reason why he has done this is not clear.

'On the evidence I've heard and, on the balance of probabilities, I can say that Sam intended to kill himself and did so. The formal conclusion is one of suicide.'  

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