Army ‘stalwart’, 56, suffering from PTSD killed himself at Beachy Head after learning he was being demoted, inquest hears
- Soldier Jonathan Payne travelled to Beachy Head in Sussex on the day he died
- Army stalwart is thought to have suffered from undiagnosed PTSD inquest heard
- The court heard he was worried about the future of his position within the army
- For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or go to samaritans.org
An Army ‘stalwart’ killed himself after finding out he was being demoted, an inquest heard.
Jonathan Payne, 56, travelled from his home in Southampton, Hants, to Beachy Head in Sussex on the day he died, the hearing was told.
His wife said he was fine in the morning and it is thought he had confirmation of his job role change the day he made the trip to Sussex.
The inquest was told that the squaddie suffered PTSD and flashbacks from his time in the forces.
He was found dead by the coastguard at the bottom of the cliffs near Eastbourne on March 4 this year.
Soldier Jonathan Payne (pictured) took his own life after suffering with undiagnosed PTSD and worrying about the future of his role within the Army, an inquest into his death has heard
The inquest into his death at Eastbourne Town Hall heard Mr Payne had been demoted by the Army not long before his death.
A report from Police Sergeant Tod Stewart stated Mr Payne had been reported missing in Hampshire after being demoted due to changes in the army structure.
Vehicle checks were done to trace Mr Payne to Beachy Head where he was recovered by the coastguard, PS Stewart said.
The inquest heard Mr Payne served in a particularly difficult army tour in 2013 and was suspected to have undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD].
His wife, Sarah Payne, told the coroner: ‘We were devoted to each other. He was a very generous man and step-father to my children.’
Mrs Payne said he had become distant over time, with night terrors and flashbacks being a regular occurrence in the eight months up to his death.
Mr Payne, 56, went missing from his home in Southampton and was found by the coastguard hours later at the bottom of cliffs near Beachy Head in Sussex (pictured) earlier this year
She said Mr Payne served in the army for 35 years but ‘he worried for the future’ of his position.
On the morning of March 4 Mrs Payne told the court he said ‘love you’ and ‘see you later’ when her husband left.
She added they also spoke on the phone at 2pm that day and he ‘sounded fine’.
But he went missing later and vehicle checks traced Mr Payne to Beachy Head where he was found by the coastguard, PS Stewart said.
Mr Payne had been a reservist with 165 Port and Maritime Regiment RLC for 15 years before becoming a full time member of the recruiting team, based in Blighmont, Southampton.
In a Facebook post by 165 Port and Maritime Regiment RLC on March 4, his colleagues wrote: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of WO1 Jonathan Payne.
Tributes paid to Mr Payne say he was well-known, lied and respected across the military community and his wife described him as a ‘very generous’ man and step-father to her children
‘Jonathan was, without doubt a stalwart of the Regiment.
‘He was well known, liked and respected across the Regiment, Brigade and the local community.
‘He will be sorely missed by us all and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.’
East Sussex coroner Alan Craze ruled Mr Payne took his own life.
The Ministry of Defence has been contacted for comment.
For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or go to samaritans.org