George Jacobus Du Preez, a 37 year old Army Veteran who served in Afghanistan was found dead in his home address on 17 November 2019.
Originally from Namibia, George enlisted in the South African Army after completing his education, later joining the Parachute Regiment in the British Army upon moving to the UK in 2007. Following a tour in Afghanistan, George began exhibiting symptoms of PTSD, ultimately leading to a diagnosis of complex PTSD while still in service. Despite receiving treatment and undergoing inpatient care, his mental health did not improve, resulting in his medical discharge in 2014.
Relocating to South Wales with his family in 2014, George faced ongoing challenges accessing veteran-specific mental health services. His mental health continued to decline, contributing to the breakdown of his marriage, although his wife, Katriona, remained a steadfast supporter of his struggles.
George’s battle with PTSD included severe symptoms such as flashbacks, and he faced legal consequences during an episode in May 2019, awakening to the tragic loss of his support dog. Subsequently, he was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison. Between this incident and his imprisonment, George exhibited self-harm, expressed suicidal thoughts, and made a serious suicide attempt. Despite being monitored in prison due to suicide risk, there was no apparent referral for veteran-specific mental health services.
Released from prison on October 22, 2019, George met with his probation officer, who encouraged him to seek mental health support from his GP. Unfortunately, he was not granted an appointment before his untimely death on November 17.
The family is now urging an inquest to thoroughly examine the circumstances leading to George’s passing, particularly focusing on the challenges he faced accessing veteran-specific mental health care in South Wales.
Gemma Vine, specialist inquest solicitor at Ison Harrison solicitors, commented: “George’s family want his inquest to raise awareness of a number of issues including the availability of access to mental health support for armed forces veterans who suffer trauma during service. Where services appear to be gradually improving for veterans in England there seems to be a lack of similar services available to those in Wales and that needs to urgently change if future deaths are to be prevented.”
George’s family is being represented by Gemma Vine, Ison Harrison Limited and Counsel Lilian Lewis, Garden Court North.
Other interested persons are Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and the Probation Service.
For further information, interview requests and to note your interest please contact Gemma Vine – firstname.lastname@example.org