Former England captain Terry Butcher chokes back tears over son's Death

Former England captain Terry Butcher chokes back tears over son's Death
Previous England captain Terry Butcher has blamed the Army for failling his former Army son who kicked the bucket after combating post traumatic pressure issue following a tour of Afghanistan.

Butcher, 59, stood up after an inquest today heard how his child Christopher, 35, had turned to liquor and drugs after being released from the Army in April 2015 because of the psychological well-being condition.

He held back tears as depicted his child's passing as 'superfluous' and claimed that Britain's military had 'discarded' their duties' by neglecting to appropriately help veterans.

Butcher who played in three World Cups, told how he wanted his son to be remembered as a 'hero' who had become 'a victim of war' and had 'paid the ultimate price.'

The inquest heard how Christopher, a former Captain in the Royal Artillery, had been haunted by nightmares and flashbacks about his comrades and civilians being killed in Afghanistan.

Butcher found the body of his son wedged between the bed and the wall in his bedroom when he went to check on him on the morning of October 16 last year at his home in Bawdsey near Woodbridge, Suffolk.

A post mortem failed to find his cause of death, but found that he had an enlarged heart which could have been caused by drug use, the inquest in Ipswich heard.

Toxicology tests revealed he had non-lethal levels of cocaine and heroin in his body as well as prescription drugs which he had been taking for several years. A makeshift crack pipe in a sunglasses case was also found in his room

Suffolk assistant coroner Dr Dan Sharpstone recorded a conclusion that he had died from an enlarged heart due to uncertain causes with a background of drug use and PTSD.

The inquest heard that Christopher had been living for a year with his parents after splitting from his wife Laura due to his mental health.

Butcher who attended the hearing with Laura and his father Leonard, 81, said in his statement: 'Christopher passed away several months ago, but in reality the Chris that we all knew and loved had ceased to exist years before.

Former England captain Terry Butcher chokes back tears over son's Death
'Diagnosed with severe post traumatic stress disorder, his life spiralled downwards as the demons took control of his mind. In truth after intense tours of Iraq and Afghanistan he became a victim of war.

'These circumstances are all to familiar. Our country has a number of veterans suffering from the same condition, released from the armed forces too early and having to rely on an overloaded NHS that is ill-equipped and underfunded to cope.

'Our armed forces have a duty to look after their people before, during and after active service, but this responsibility has been discarded too easily which has resulted in a growing number of our veterans turning to anything that might help including alcohol, drugs and suicide as a means of alleviating the flashbacks and nightmares

'Christopher had a glittering career in the Army ahead of him, a loving wife and dreams of having children of his own. His unnecessary death has deprived us of a wonderful son, husband, brother and grandson, friend and comrade

'He touched the hearts of all who met him, As a family we ask that he be remembered as a hero who so proudly served his country and who paid the ultimate price.

The former Ipswich Town and Rangers defender who won 77 caps for England,, came close to breaking down as he added: 'We also ask that our country considers, what is the right support that should be provided to help our heroes and victims of war?'

The inquest heard how Christopher died just three days after being discharged from a one month stay at the Woodlands psychiatric unit at Ipswich Hospital. He had previously had five other stays in mental health units.

He had begun suffering from suspected PTSD in 2010 and the condition intensified the following year, leading him to be discharged from the Army April in 2015

Dr Mohammed Hassan who treated Christopher in Suffolk, told in a statement how he had witnessed casualties and deaths of soldiers and civilians while serving in Afghanistan in 2009.

He added that Christopher suffered repeated flashbacks, had kept hearing voices in his head urging him to kill himself, and had told how he 'sometimes smelt the dust and smoke of war'.

The inquest was told that Christopher tried to help himself by walking his pet beagle three miles a day, going to the gym and joining an American football team, but had to stop exercise after a knee injury.

Mental health therapist Helen Read who also treated Christopher said he had been left distressed by the voices he kept hearing.

She added in a statement: 'He was extraordinarily brave in the face of severe PTSD and it was a privilege to work with him.'

Dr Wendy Hale who works at the Woodlands clinic, added: 'He felt guilt and shame over things he was involved with in Afghanistan.'

She added that he had also been affected by an earlier incident in Iraq and kept having flashbacks involving the smell of burning, and felt anxious if he saw Army tanks on television.

One of the voices he kept hearing was of an Afghan girl and another was an Army sergeant major ordering him to kill himself

The inquest heard that Butcher and his wife Rita had visited their son at the Woodlands clinic on September 21 and had expressed concern to staff after seeing another patient pass him three tablets to take.

They also said they were worried about the availability of recreational drugs at the unit, saying they did not believe their son had taken them in the past.

Dr Hale said in her statement that the unit had been using sniffer dogs to try and clampdown on illicit drugs being smuggled in.

The inquest heard how Mrs Butcher heard a bang in her son's room at around 4am and went to check on him, but assumed he was alright after hearing he sound of snoring.

Butcher who won the UEFA Cup with Ipswich Town managed clubs including Coventry, Sunderland, Motherwell and Sydney after his playing career, found him dead at 7.20am.

He and his wife said in a statement to the hearing how their son had joined the Army in 2006 after going to Glasgow University and Sandhurst. They added: 'his infectious laughter and cheeky grin together with his bubbly character will always be with us.'

Coroner Dr Sharpstone said: 'When people serve in the armed forces they give everything in the defence of our country, and this may result in death or serious injury. However it can also result in PTSD.

'I suspect he was haunted every day and night. People with PTSD may turn to illicit drugs to get at least a temporary respite. They are ultimately casualties of war deserving our sympathy, gratitude and respect.'



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