Soldier scarred by war admits killing his family

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The Independent Online

A Gulf War veteran has admitted killing four members of his family when a mental disorder, exacerbated by military service, caused him to "flip".

David Bradley, 41, whose service in Northern Ireland led to post traumatic stress disorder, shot his uncle, aunt and two cousins at close range with a silenced 7.65mm handgun he had smuggled into the UK after serving in Bosnia.

Peter and Josie Purcell, both 70, who had provided a home for Bradley since he was 16, were both killed, along with their sons Keith, 44, and Glen, 41. All were shot in the head at close range at their home in Newcastle upon Tyne last July.

As his murder trial was due to begin at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Bradley admitted four counts of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility after two psychiatrists agreed he was mentally ill at the time of the killings.

Toby Hedworth QC, for the prosecution, said medical experts, for the Crown and defence, agreed that Bradley had suffered "lifelong behavioural and emotional difficulties", which worsened after his 1995 discharge from the Army and deteriorated further in 1997. His cannabis habit may have compounded his mental state.

In police interviews, Bradley said he had felt "jaded and weird" and that the hot weather was getting to him before he smashed up the house and fought with his cousin Keith. He killed his family over a five-hour period on the night of 8 and 9 July. The former Royal Artillery private, who served in the 1991 Gulf War, shot Peter and Keith, before waiting for his aunt Josie and cousin Glen to come home. After the killings, Bradley had a shower and changed his clothes.

Then at 5.55am - armed with a nail bomb, sawn-off shotgun, silenced pistol and ammunition - walked to his local police station to surrender calmly. He told officers: "I have killed four members of my family." He was immediately arrested on suspicion of murder.

Bradley was remanded in custody until next month while psychiatric reports are prepared.