03/02/2014 12:00 GMT

Soldier Anne-Marie Ellement Found Hanged After Rape Claim, Inquest Hears

A Royal Military Police officer was found hanging in her barracks two years after alleging she had been raped by two soldiers, an inquest heard.

Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, 30, was found at Bulford Barracks near Salisbury in Wiltshire on October 9 2011.

Cpl Ellement's sister, Sharon Hardy, told the inquest in Salisbury, Wiltshire, that she had been left "absolutely devastated" by the decision by military investigators not to prosecute the two soldiers who she claimed had raped her in November 2009, while she was posted in Germany.


Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, 30, originally from Bournemouth in Dorset, who was found hanged at Bulford Barracks near Salisbury

Mrs Hardy, 44, told the inquest that her sister rang her from Germany to tell her of the allegation.

"She was absolutely traumatised," Mrs Hardy, a married mother of four from Christchurch, Dorset, said.

Cpl Ellement returned to the UK on compassionate leave and spent Christmas with her sister and her family.

"She was devastated. She looked worn-out and she had lost weight - she looked awful," Mrs Hardy said.

"She kept a lot back because I think she was embarrassed about what happened. She was dreading going back to Germany.

"Anne-Marie was confident those soldiers would be charged and I was not going to tell a victim they may not be charged.

"She was really frightened about going back to Germany because she didn't know what to expect."

Mrs Hardy said one female soldier supplied a statement to investigators supporting Cpl Ellement's allegations but changed it after befriending the girlfriend of one of the soldiers she was accusing of rape.

"She told me that the girls had started to turn on her. She lost the support network that she thought she had when she was sent on compassionate leave," Mrs Hardy said.

"The girls were running up and down the corridor screaming 'There's the girl that cried rape', banging on her door.

"All that I could do was try and reassure her that once they were charged everything would be OK."

Mrs Hardy said her sister was "absolutely devastated" at learning the two servicemen , who are known only as Soldier A and Soldier B at the inquest, would not be charged.

"Anne-Marie was absolutely devastated. She could not believe it," she said.

"She was 110% certain what had happened to her and her being in the Royal Military Police and the fact they were not taking her allegations seriously.

"She said to me 'Justice is shit. They got away with it. They are trying to uphold the law but they have got away with it'.

"She was so strong and she believed what they did was wrong. She was not happy and she wanted justice."

Mrs Hardy told the hearing, before deputy coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon Nicholas Rheinburg, that her sister became worried by the news that a former colleague from Germany was being posted to Bulford in the spring of 2011.

"It was troubling Anne-Marie what trouble this soldier could bring to Bulford," Mrs Hardy said.


Mrs Hardy said her sister also told her of being overworked and doing between 80 and 90 hours a week and being called in on her days off.

"She said she was sick of it, that she was tired and wanted out," she said. "I put that down to the unit's large volume of workload."

Mrs Hardy also spoke of an incident at a rugby match between the Army and Navy at Twickenham in April 2011, at which Cpl Ellement alleged another soldier said to her in front of 100 personnel: "There's the girl that cried rape."

She said: "Anne-Marie was absolutely mortified because, as she said, none of the soldiers in her unit knew about this."

Mrs Hardy described her "disbelief" at hearing the news that her sister was dead - three days after her 30th birthday.

"When she died, my immediate thoughts were the Army, the rape, the bullying and the overwork," she told the inquest.

"I think she said something on Facebook about 'I've had enough of everything' but she didn't say anything to my face at all. Perhaps that was her warning sign but it didn't trigger with me."

Mrs Hardy said that her sister had several short term relationships with different men but nothing long term.

She was asked whether Cpl Ellement could have taken her own life because of the latest split.

"Absolutely not because he had a few short term relationships," Mrs Hardy said. "Her passion in her life was her family and her animals. She was not interested in a long term relationship. I think she would have liked one but it never happened for her. He was no different to any other man."

Cpl Ellement's mother, Alexandra Barritt, said her daughter viewed the transfer to Bulford as a "start of a new life" but it changed when a former colleague from Germany joined her.

"She was very distressed about it. She was worried it would get out about what happened in Germany," she said.

Mrs Barritt said her daughter had become depressed following the alleged rape.

"It was about the allegation she made of rape," she told the hearing. "She said there was going to be no charges and these two individuals were threatening her and saying they were going to sue her and she was very distressed about this."

Mrs Barritt said her daughter didn't feel "at all supported" by the Army after she made the rape allegations in Germany, and was bullied afterwards. "She said she had been left alone to deal with it. She said people she had been friends with turned against her and she couldn't come out of her room because the girls outside of the room were calling her names. She was too scared to leave her room.

"In the summer of 2011 I became very concerned about her and she seemed to be deteriorating and she had lost her spark.

"She went back on anti-depressants and was having panic attacks.

"I said to her 'you won't do anything stupid?' and she said 'shut up mum' and I didn't think anything of it."

The hearing also heard that Cpl Ellement had taken an overdose of tablets prior to joining the Army, which she had declared on her application.

Cpl Ellement's father Kenneth Ellement, a former soldier, told the inquest in a statement that the alleged rape caused her a "great deal of stress".

"Anne-Marie seemed to have some welfare problems while in the Army," he said. "I knew she was in debt and had loans for about £20,000 and was paying those off. I have no idea why she would want to take her own life."

Lance Corporal Rebecca Thorpe said in a statement that Cpl Ellement had several short-term relationships, including with a married man, and could "fall in love quite quickly".

L/Cpl Thorpe also said she had seen signs of self-harming on Cpl Ellement's arms.

"She said quite casually she had cut them with a knife and didn't know why and said she had been bored and sat there watching the telly. I thought she had cut herself in the past and didn't want to tell me. She never told me about any of her self-harming or wanting to commit suicide."

An inquest in March 2012 recorded a conclusion that Cpl Ellement, originally from Bournemouth, took her own life.

But last August the High Court ordered a fresh hearing, which began today and is expected to last at least two weeks.

Emma Norton, the Liberty lawyer representing Cpl Ellement sisters, said: “Anne-Marie always wanted to serve in the Armed Forces. Her sisters believe that she was horrifically let down. Liberty hopes that the inquest will finally uncover what happened to her and that important lessons will be learned.

"The need for basic human rights protection for our Armed Forces is seen nowhere more clearly than in this case.”