Parents’ plea for their troubled son

Lee Murray
Lee Murray

A CLOWNE couple have spoken of the heartache of seeing their troubled ex-soldier son sent to jail.

Ex-Light Dragoon L Cpl Lee Murray, 37, was jailed for 18 weeks after slashing himself with a knife and threatening police officers.

Solicitor and ex-serviceman Steve Brint told Chesterfield magistrates the Whitwell man was “mentally scarred” by army service.

“He has been to Bosnia three times and seen atrocities committed by Milosevic and lost friends there.”

“He has been to Iraq twice and lost friends there too,” said Mr Brint, adding that seven colleagues from Murray’s regiment had died in Afghanistan.

Murray admitted affray but had been convicted previously of using threatening behaviour and the justices decided he posed too great a risk to the community to remain at liberty.

Angela Hadfield, prosecuting, said Murray dialled 999 himself on 16th June to say he had cut his arms, head and face with a knife.

Two officers found him at home having been drinking and he was bleeding.

He had been reading a newspaper article about a friend killed in service and had photos of his army pals all over the walls.

Murray cut himself further in front of the officers and threatened to assault them.

“He was sprayed in the face with CS gas, given a knee strike, taken to the ground and the knife was seized,” said Mrs Hadfield.

Speaking at home after the sentence, Lee’s parents Janet and Terry said they had been trying to help for Lee for years.

“He’s been in the army nearly all his life so it’s all he knows,” said Terry, 63, an ex-serviceman himself.

“He’s seen some horrific things out there and it has affected him.”

Janet, 61, said: “We realise you can’t threaten a policeman and get away with it, he’s got to pay.”

“But he’s my little boy and it’s heartbreaking to see him like this.”

“I just think he has slipped through the net somehow and not had enough help.”

“I want him to enjoy his life and see his three little girls grow up.”

The couple said Lee had spent time living with them since leaving service in 2009.

Janet said: “He was really struggling to cope with civilian life and things have escalated recently.”

Lee had seen a counsellor from veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, but began missing appointments.

“We’re hoping he can go on a residential detox programme and start seeing them again,” said Janet.

Combat Stress offers community outreach support and treatment to veterans in their own homes or in the last six months of a prison term, as well as in-patient treatment at three centres around the UK.

A spokesman said: “It is crucial that a veteran is seeking help for any drug or alcohol problems, before they can engage with mental health support.”

“We work closely with local NHS services and GPs to ensure that a patient is stable before treatment.”

Lee’s parents are now working with SSAFA - the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association - to bring Lee’s flat up to scratch in time for his release.

“We are grateful for the help Lee has had but I don’t think it’s enough for these brave soldiers,” said Janet.

“There are so many like our Lee and they should be regularly checked up on once they are home - not just forgotten.”