New evidence delays coroner’s ruling on death of soldier who said she was raped

Family of Anne-Marie Ellement say diary and mobile phones referred to in documents were not passed to them

A coroner’s ruling into the death of a soldier who said she had been raped and bullied has been unexpectedly delayed after lawyers for the military revealed they had uncovered new documents, including a reference to a diary and mobile phones the woman’s family say were never passed to them.

Lawyers for the family of Anne-Marie Ellement, a corporal in the Royal Military Police, who was found hanging at her barracks in October 2011, said they were “devastated and upset” at the revelation and accused the military police of a gross breach of guidelines on evidence disclosure.

Following three weeks of evidence at the inquest in Salisbury, Wiltshire, the coroner, Nicholas Rheinberg, had been scheduled to deliver his decision on the death of Ellement, who died shortly after her 30th birthday.

However, this was postponed after it emerged that emails to the coroner from lawyers for the military over the weekend disclosed the discovery of two previously unseen computer discs containing more than 1,000 files.

Nicholas Moss, the barrister for the Ministry of Defence, said the great majority of these files were irrelevant to the case and were connected to Ellement’s military police casework. But within these were files such as a Ellement’s covering letter for her application to be transferred to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, and a note about a planned interview, scheduled to take place on 10 October 2011, the day after she died.

Also among the newly found files was an inventory of items found in Ellement’s room at Bulford barracks near Salisbury after her death, produced by the army’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre. The court heard this listed three mobile phones and a pink-covered 2010-11 diary, the latter referenced with a note that one page contained an entry that could be “sensitive and upsetting” for the family.

Kirsten Heaven, the barrister acting for Ellement’s sisters, said they had never previously seen the inventory or been passed the phones or the diary. She said: “The family are devastated and upset that these documents have come so late.”

Heaven cited guidelines on the disclosure of evidence at inquests, saying the family believed the MoD had clearly breached these by not producing the documents until the very end of the inquest, by which point all witnesses had been cross-examined.

Moss said the omission was accidental and the MoD had informed the coroner and family as soon as they had made the discovery, late on Friday. He said: “There is no suggestion at all of any wrongdoing.”

He said it was possible the diary and phones had been passed to Ellement’s father, Kenneth. Ellement’s sisters are not in touch with him, and police will seek to find out whether he has them, the inquest was told.

Rheinberg adjourned the inquest for a week but warned he was not willing to wait “forever and a day” for evidence that might be both impossible to track down and of possibly limited relevance.

The inquest …read more    

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