Soldier’s body undiscovered for three weeks at Catterick barracks

Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan. Photo: Family handout.

A soldier who died in his Catterick Garrison barracks lay undiscovered for three weeks, an investigation has found.

The decomposing body of Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan, 33, was found in his room at Bourlon Barracks in January last year.

An internal inquiry report concluded the delay in discovering Bernard’s fate was “unacceptable and profoundly regrettable”, according to a copy seen by the BBC.

Part of the report – which has yet to be published – reads: “Failings in the proper management of personnel led to the delay in the discovery of L/Cpl Mongan.”

It also found Bernard’s complaints of bullying and warnings about his welfare were not properly investigated or passed on.

A total of 45 errors in the soldier’s care were identified by the army’s service inquiry, according to reports.

Bourlon Barracks in Catterick Garrison.

His widow Beth, 31, said in a statement: “It’s clear he felt bullied, this was not investigated properly, his mental health suffered, he was telling people he was afraid and he was not checked properly in the days before he died.

“If those checks had been carried out properly, we might not be here now.”

The Royal Signals soldier, who had served in Iraq, spent his Christmas 2019 leave in his room and was due to join the Army’s 77th Brigade in Berkshire on attachment two weeks before he died.

Officers at the base had been told to contact soldiers staying at the base over Christmas to ensure they were safe and well.

Lance Corporal Bernard Mongan. Photo: Family handout.

But the inquiry found this plan was “not been communicated and implemented as effectively as it should have”, the BBC reported.

Bernard’s new superiors at the 77th Brigade then failed to notice his absence as there was no roll call or head count, which the inquiry called ‘distressing’.

The 33-year-old was the victim of a serious assault in Catterick in 2018 which was being investigated by the Royal Military Police. Victim support was deemed ineffective by the inquiry.

Bernard’s widow Beth said her husband might still be alive if the Army’s checks were carried out properly

In 2016, a report that he had made “an attempt on his own life” was addressed but the information was not passed on.

As recently as 2019 he was said to be in an “emotional state” – with one witness at Catterick finding him “sat on his bed… uncontrollably crying”.

Brigadier Edward Chamberlain, head of the army personnel services group, said in a statement: “There were clearly failings in our duty of care to lance corporal Mongan.

“The delay in discovering he was deceased was unacceptable and profoundly regrettable. We are truly sorry that such a situation should have arisen.”

He said the wellbeing of members of the armed forces was critical, adding: “In this case, we fell short of the standard which our armed forces and their families are entitled to expect, and for that we apologise.

‘”We will implement all the recommendations in the service inquiry to ensure an incident like this does not happen again.”