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 9 October 2011. An inquest in 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 yesterday.
Cpl Ellement’s sister, Sharon Hardy, told the inquest in Salisbury that her sister 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.
Ms Hardy, 44, said one female soldier had 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. “She told me that the girls had started to turn on her,” she said.
“She lost the support network that she thought she had when she was sent on compassionate leave [after making the allegations]. 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.”
Ms Hardy said her sister “could not believe it” when she discovered that the two servicemen , known only as Soldier A and Soldier B at the inquest, would not be charged. “She was 110 per cent 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. “She said to me ‘justice is shit. They got away with it’. She was so strong and she believed what they did was wrong. She was not happy and she wanted justice.”
Ms Hardy also said her sister complained about being overworked, 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.”
Ms 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.” Ms Hardy said: “Anne-Marie was absolutely mortified because, as she said, none of the soldiers in her unit knew about this.”
Also giving evidence at the inquest was Corporal Derek Bennetts, who said that Cpl Ellement had complained to him of being “picked upon” by a Staff-Sgt. He also claimed that two senior NCOs would shout at her. “Sometimes it seemed they got a kick out of it,” he said. “That’s the word I would use – an awful thing to say. They seemed to enjoy bollocking her.” Cpl Bennetts also said that “welfare was not a priority” for the company. “Certainly not at that time. Nothing seemed to happen,” he said.
Capt Shane Doherty, who at the time of Cpl Ellement’s death was a company Sgt-Maj, said he only found out about the rape allegations after her death. He said he found claims that members of the RMP were working 80 or 90 hours a week “absolutely staggering and doubtful”. The inquest continues.