Ben Riches: inquest opens on Tuesday into death of 30-year-old Army veteran

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An inquest into the death of a 30-year-old Army veteran from Fleetwood who served in Iraq and Afghanistan opens in Preston on Tuesday.

Ben Riches was found hanging at his home in April 2019, less than three weeks after being pulled from the sea at Fleetwood beach following an attempt on his life. Having joined the army in 2005, aged 16, Ben was deployed to Iraq in 2007 and faced several life-threatening actions and hostile engagements including being a victim of a roadside bomb, which eventually led to hearing loss and his medical discharge in 2014. On April 11, 2019, 20 days after being pulled from the sea a second time, he told friends he had been in the army with via a Whatsapp group that he wanted to kill himself.

Although they alerted the police, by the time officers gained entry to his home he was found unresponsive. He was taken to A&E but attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful. The inquest at Preston Coroner’s Court, expected to take several days, will explore Ben’s care from the community mental health services. At a pre-inquest review held at Poulton in October 2019, coroner James Newman heard from Ben’s father Kevin how the ex-serviceman was believed to have suffered from post-traumatic stress for years before his death.

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Ben Riches died in April 2019Ben Riches died in April 2019
Ben Riches died in April 2019

Gemma Vine, specialist inquest solicitor at Ison Harrison solicitors, representing Ben’s family, said ahead of the full inquest: “Ben’s family would like the inquest into his tragic death to raise awareness around the availability of mental health support for Armed Forces veterans who suffer trauma during service. “We are keen to ensure the various factors at play when a veteran takes their own life are fully considered during the inquest and that this information is accurately fed into the Government’s study The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) suicide in former service personnel of the UK armed forces.

"Without this vital information, there will not be sufficient evidence to identify trends and needs so that deaths can be prevented in the future and cases such as Ben’s can be dealt with before it is too late.”