Young man shot himself in head in Derbyshire beauty spot

A young Army Reserve Corporal shot himself in the head at a Derbyshire beauty spot, an inquest heard.

Friday, 4th March 2016, 3:40 pm
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 7:01 pm
Padley Gorge.

Much-loved Ashley Brown, 31, was found dead inside his car with his war medals and photographs of his ex-girlfriend and dogs next to him.

He killed himself with a shotgun at Padley Gorge in the Peak District on Friday, April 3, 2015.

An inquest at Chesterfield coroners’ court on Friday heard Cpl Brown, of Lynwood Close, Dronfield Woodhouse, had recently separated from his partner and had trouble readjusting to life on his return from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A written statement from Cpl Brown’s ex-partner Faye Spooner – which was read out in court by the coroner – said: “He was a lovely person who’d do anything for you. He could be quiet and shy and kept his cards close to his chest but I never had any concerns for him.

“We split up in January, 2015, as it wasn’t working out. It was an amicable separation and we stayed in contact.”

The statement said Cpl Brown, who worked as a health and safety consultant, visited Ms Spooner before he killed himself and asked her if there was a chance of them getting back together again.

The court heard Ms Spooner didn’t say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and that she thought he seemed ‘very relaxed and normal’.

A member of the public later found Cpl Brown’s car at Padley Gorge near Grindleford and alerted police. The decorated veteran was pronounced dead at 12.45pm.

PC David Naylor, of Derbyshire police, said Cpl Brown’s war medals and pictures of Ms Spooner and his dogs were found near his body. Suicide notes were also discovered.

Cpl Brown’s father Malcolm Brown told the court: “He was a happy young man.

“When he came back off active duty, his personality changed – I was concerned he was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

“He never said what he saw in battle. He wouldn’t admit there was anything wrong – he didn’t go and see his GP.

“I and many other people miss him dearly.”

In a statement, Cpl Brown’s company commander said he did not see any signs of combat stress in him.

Coroner James Newman ruled Cpl Brown – who had a shotgun licence – committed suicide whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed.

He said: “Cpl Brown, a decorated veteran who completed two tours of duty, was found with a shotgun injury to his head in his car.

“At the time he had recently separated from his partner and he had trouble readjusting to life on his return from active duty.”

Mr Newman added: “He was a very fine young man who was much-loved and very hard-working.

“If I had a son and he turned out like Cpl Brown, I’d be incredibly proud.”