Sandhurst cadet’s suicide ‘could have been prevented’ as Army apologises for ‘systemic failings’

26 May 2023, 17:54 | Updated: 2 June 2023, 17:21

Olivia Perks took her own life in 2019.
Olivia Perks took her own life in 2019. Picture: Family handout

By Jenny Medlicott

The Army missed a chance to stop a “positive and bubbly” officer cadet's suicide, a coroner has ruled.

Olivia perks, 21, hanged herself in her room at Sandhurst military academy in Berkshire on 6 February 2019.

The inquest, which took place over 16 days, heard that she previously attempted suicide on July 2018 but this information had not been passed onto commanding officers at the time.

The Army said it was “deeply sorry” for its “systemic and individual failings”.

Speaking at Reading Town Hall, where the inquest was held, it was reported that Ms perks felt an “overwhelming sense of embarrassment” after spending the night in an officer’s room five days before she took her own life.

Ms Perks had been attending the Falklands Ball and reportedly spent the night with Colour Sgt Griffith - but they both denied any sexual activity took place.

The coroner said those in charge missed a chance to get the young woman seen by a doctor afterwards, as she “trashed” her room in front of colleagues after that night and hit her head against a bed frame.

They also said that Ms Perks fell victim to a “complete breakdown in welfare support” while she was at the academy.

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

Olivia Perks, 21, took her life in February 2019.
Olivia Perks, 21, took her life in February 2019. Picture: Family handout

Read more: Parents who murdered baby son on Christimas Day after winning him back from social services jailed for life

Read more: 'Honey monster' who murdered woman, 33, and mutilated her body in Nineties jailed after boasting he got away with it

The welfare support available at the academy was previously described as “irresponsible”, as it had only one officer available for 2,500 people.

Olivia attempted to end her life the summer before while she was visiting the Royal Engineers in Dorset, but her chances of attempting it again was deemed “low risk” afterwards.

Just two days later she was sent back on duty and warned she could lose her place at the academy if she tried anything similar again.

Coroner Alison McCormick concluded: “The risks to Olivia were not managed in accordance with the Army policy for the risk management of vulnerable people.

"There was a missed opportunity by the chain of command to recognise the risk which the stress of her situation (after the Falklands Ball) posed to Olivia and a medical assessment should have been, but was not, requested.

"It is not possible to know what the outcome would have been had a medical assessment taken place, but it is possible that measures would have been put in place which could have prevented Olivia's death."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Labour's Wes Streeting has called for a debate with Nigel Farage

Labour's Wes Streeting calls for debate with Nigel Farage to take on 'toxic rhetoric' of Reform leader in 'battle of ideas'

Prince William's children have sent him a Father's Day message

'We love you papa': George, Charlotte and Louis send Prince William Father's Day message in first social media post

Labour and the Conservatives would leave the NHS 'worse off than under austerity', the Nuffield Trust has warned

Labour and Tories would leave NHS 'worse off' than under austerity, health think tank warns

Exclusive
Mark Harper has admitted there is a 'hard fight ahead' for the Conservatives to win the election

Minister admits 'hard fight ahead' as poll suggests 'Tory extinction' - but says no deal to be done with Farage

William and Charles have shared Father's Day messages

Prince William sends touching Father's Day message to Charles with new photo, as King also shares childhood video

Labour and the Conservatives will face off in the July 4 election

Labour landslide could see Tories winning just 72 seats, poll finds, as Rishi Sunak's party faces 'electoral extinction'

Live
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

General Election LIVE: Poll suggests Tory wipe-out on July 4, as Sunak insists 'only election itself matters'

Exclusive
Pooja Kanda with Ronan

Mother of murdered son urges online shops to stop selling knives voluntarily if laws won't ban them

Israel has paused fighting to allow more aid into southern Gaza

Israel announces 'tactical pause' in fighting to allow more aid into southern Gaza

Rishi Sunak said his faith guides him

Rishi Sunak says 'Hindu faith and duty' guide him as PM, and insists he is patriotic despite Nigel Farage's attacks

Gordon Ramsay 'lucky to be alive' as star shows off shocking injuries after being involved 'brutal' cycling accident

Gordon Ramsay 'lucky to be alive' as star shows off shocking injuries after being involved in 'brutal' cycling accident

Putin is 'not interested in genuine peace' in Ukraine, Rishi Sunak tells world in Switzerland

Putin is 'not interested in genuine peace' in Ukraine, Rishi Sunak tells world leaders in Switzerland

Kate's big comeback: Princess and William share tender moment as she re-joins royals at Trooping the Colour

Kate's big comeback: Princess and William share tender moment as she re-joins royals at Trooping the Colour

The attack, which took place in a garden east Germany on Friday night, saw the knifeman stab four people before police arrived at the scene.

German police shoot dead knifeman at Euro 2024 party after rampage leaves one dead and three injured

Businessman sues Apple after wife finds ‘deleted’ iPhone messages to prostitute

Businessman sues Apple after wife finds ‘deleted’ iPhone messages to prostitute

Olympic cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins is bankrupt, homeless and has "lost absolutely everything", according to his lawyer.

Olympic cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins has 'lost absolutely everything' as star faces selling medals following bankruptcy