The family of a British special forces corporal believed to have taken his own life after suffering years of mental health issues has described the care he received as “casual and incompetent”.
The mother of Alex Tostevin, 28, a member of the Special Boat Service (SBS), told his inquest that his commanding officers and medics knew he was a suicide risk and needed more help.
Alison Tostevin said: “The thing that disturbed me, traumatised me the most, was that everybody knew. The MoD knew, his commanding officers knew, welfare knew, his medics knew. Everybody knew that my son had sat in his flat in a darkened room with a noose around his neck.
“I think that life must be cheap to people who think it’s OK to leave someone with their dog and 999 and the Samaritans as security and safety measures and all the boxes are ticked. That’s a fine job of care. Our precious son has gone. His care was casual, incompetent and careless and it has destroyed us.”
Tostevin said her son was a kind, bright, fun-loving boy who grew up on Guernsey. He joined the Royal Marines thinking it would be an adventure but within months of passing out was sent to Afghanistan.
He was shot in the head at the age of 21 while on sentry duty in Afghanistan, the inquest in Bournemouth heard. The bullet ricocheted around his helmet and he was knocked the ground but he continued to hold Taliban gunmen off so that his colleagues could reach safety. He received a mention in dispatches for his bravery.
When he returned from Afghanistan, he took to keeping a cricket bat next to his bed for safety and was frightened of children because in Afghanistan youngsters had led troops into ambushes. Tostevin said he became volatile, got into financial difficulties and suffered “night terrors”.
He joined the SBS in 2015 and went on an overseas operation with the unit in 2016.
In one message to his mother in the month he died – March 2018 – he told her: “I’ve been risk taking since I got shot in my helmet.”
He also said: “I feel like I have expired … I can’t stop crying.” Tostevin told his mother he was accepting all the help but added: “There isn’t that much.”
Tostevin began to worry that he had bipolarity and his mother said he wanted to be admitted to hospital. “He wanted to get better, he wanted to be made safe," 그녀가 말했다. “Hospital would have been a relief to him.”
Tostevin said that at her son’s funeral, the wife of a colleague had told her he had been put on an “informal suicide watch”, which involved him staying at their house and sleeping on a sofa.
The Ministry of Defence had argued that the SBS should not be named during the inquest because of national security but the coroner Brendan Allen said the unit he served with was “relevant and of legitimate public interest”.
Tostevin’s family said the inquest had been delayed for years due to a “constant stream of legal submissions and applications from the MoD”.
The inquest continues.