Mother of SBS hero, 28, slams MoD for its ‘incompetence’ in ‘knowing’ her son was a suicide risk two days before he died alone in flat while battling scars from Afghanistan tour, inquest hears

  • Alison Tostevin spoke at inquest for Special Boat Service Corporal Alex Tostevin
  • She told how how her son had spiralled into drink and drugs after tour of Afghan
  • She wept as she said his mental health deteriorated and he was ‘shell’ of himself
  • She claimed the Ministry of Defence failed to provide adequate support for him

The mother of a hero marine has slammed the ‘casual and incompetent’ care he received from the Armed Forces before his suspected suicide.

Alison Tostevin told an inquest into former Special Boat Service Corporal Alexander Tostevin, 28, how he spiralled into drink and drugs.

She wept as she said his mental health deteriorated and he became a ‘shell’ of himself mired in debt.

She claimed the Ministry of Defence failed to provide adequate support when they knew he had sat in a darkened flat with a ‘noose around his neck’, the hearing heard.

Corporal Tostevin remained a serving marine until he was found dead at an address in Poole, Dorset, on March 18, 2018.

He had been mentioned in despatches for his gallantry fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

But he was permanently scarred by the horrors he witnessed during his first tour of duty in 2010, including seeing children with bombs strapped to them.

Alison Tostevin told an inquest into former Special Boat Service Corporal Alexander Tostevin (pictured), 28, how he spiralled into drink and drugs

Corporal Tostevin (pictured) remained a serving marine until he was found dead at an address in Poole, Dorset, on March 18, 2018

Mentioned in despatches for saving troops pinned down by Taliban despite being shot in head: Who was hero SBS soldier Alex Tostevin?

Corporal Alex Tostevin, 28, was decorated for bravery after saving the lives of troops in battle against the Taliban.

He received a Mention in Dispatches (MiD) after continuing to fire his machine gun in Sangin, Helmand Province, even after he had been shot in the head.

His heroic actions in July 2010 allowed two other soldiers – who had been pinned down by gunmen – to escape and his citation revealed he ‘remained steadfast at his sentry position’.

At the time Corporal Tostevin said he was ‘over the moon’ to receive the award.

But the Special Boat Service operative is understood to have taken his life at the unit’s headquarters in Poole, Dorset.

Corporal Tostevin is one of 12 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans feared to have killed themselves in 2018.

Mrs Tostevin, a teacher, said: ‘I didn’t know there was a problem with Alex’s care before I got the files I could read.

‘We were going to have the inquest and when I read the file I contacted your office (the coroner) and corresponded to you about some of the things that disturbed us.

‘The thing that disturbed me and traumatised me the most is that everyone knew for two days before my son died, the MOD knew, the welfare officer knew, that my son had sat in his flat in a darkened room with a noose around his neck contemplating whether to kick away the chair.

‘Welfare officer 1 reminded you in an email confirming that everyone knew that’s what my son had done.

‘I think that life must be cheap to people who think that it’s ok to leave someone with their dog and 999 and the Samaritans and that all boxes are ticked and that’s a fine job of care.

‘I don’t know anyone for whom that would be good enough. Our precious son is gone and his care was casual and incompetent and careless and you have destroyed us.’

Mrs Tostevin said the wife of a serving officer said at his funeral he had been put on an informal ‘suicide watch’ in February 2018 but the support was ‘not good enough’.

She told the inquest: ‘The wife of a serving member said to me at Alex’s funeral that he had been on an informal suicide watch and it was not enough.

‘He was staying with herself and her husband and their two children sleeping on their couch after her husband found him crying and rolling around in a gym.

‘She said it was not good enough as they were not qualified to look after him and he was couch surfing without privacy and felt he was intruding.’

Corporal Tostevin (pictured), from Guernsey, survived being shot in the head when a bullet skirted the inside of his helmet in a firefight in Sangin, Helmand Province, in 2010

Corporal Tostevin, from Guernsey, survived being shot in the head when a bullet skirted the inside of his helmet in a firefight in Sangin, Helmand Province, in 2010.

He was knocked to the ground but got to his feet and – dismissing the wound as a ‘scratch’ – returned fire, enabling two soldiers who were pinned down to escape.

His citation said: ‘Tostevin remained steadfast at his sentry position. He only sought medical assistance once the patrol was out of danger, by which time he was suffering with deep shock.’

Mrs Tostevin said what he was not ready for were the ‘awful things’ he saw on his first tour.

She said: ‘It was really awful. Lots of people lost their limbs and people lost their lives.’

She added: ‘Children had bombs strapped to them. He was frightened of children after that.’

Describing how her ‘kind, fun-loving and generous’ son’s personality changed from then on, she added: ‘He was very volatile and doing things out of character.

‘He was not respectful. He was doing silly things with money and girls. He was not the Alex I knew. He was a shell of himself.’

She said Corporal Tostevin had been suffering ‘behavioural changes’ for years when he went on an overseas operation in 2016.

He was in heavy debt to ‘pay day’ loan companies and went to court in 2017 for an incident at a bar.

She said he once told her that he had spent all his money on ‘cocaine and prostitutes’.

The inquest, which is being held at Bournemouth Town Hall, heard he had been taken into hospital on March 14, 2018, but was allowed to go home to his flat.

The case continues.

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