A former Royal Marine Commando and bodyguard to A-list stars was found hanging in full military uniform, following a battle with PTSD, an inquest heard.
Corporal Ashley Bernard Nickless was discovered by a friend at his home in Llysfaen, in Conwy, on November 22 2019, after she became concerned by worrying text messages he had sent her.
Police and the emergency services were called and efforts made to save his life, but he was later pronounced dead, his inquest in Ruthin heard today.
A post-mortem examination found there were traces of alcohol, cocaine and a drug to treat Malaria in his system – which he contracted while working in security in Sierra Leone, in Africa, after he left the military.
Dr Andrew Dalton, who carried out the examination, concluded he died of asphyxiation, due to suspension.
The inquest heard the 31-year-old joined the Royal Marines Commando in 2007. He saw friends killed while on a tour in Afghanistan which also left him with shrapnel in his arm and he witnessed other disturbing sights.
Mr Nickless, who was born in St Asaph, was discharged in 2017 with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but continued to experience mental health problems including flashbacks, panic attacks and nightmares. He had also spilt from his partner.
He had suffered issues with anxiety and paranoia earlier in his life and after his military discharge, his family became “scared of his behaviour”, the hearing heard.
He had mounting debts and there had been recent incidents where he had tried to take his life – in October and November 2 2019.
Mr Nickless had raised issues trying to access GP services before his death and his family, who were present at the inquest, questioned why he had not been sectioned or given better support.
Three notes were found in his home, which assistant coroner for North Wales east and central, Elizabeth Dudley-Jones, said left her satisfied Mr Nickless had intended to take his own life.
She recorded a conclusion of suicide.
Ms Dudley-Jones passed on her condolences to family and friends adding: “I just hope that you can all support each other going forward.”
Following his death, tributes poured in for the war veteran as a bodyguard to stars including Spice Girl Mel B and the cast of The Only Way is Essex.
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He had also worked as bodyguard and a security consultant in the Democratic Republic of Congo after leaving the military.
In a funeral notice published in the Daily Post newspaper, his family described him as a “devoted daddy”, as well as a “cherished husband of Katie, much loved son of Melvin and Amanda, dear step-son of Claire, [and] loving brother of Amy and Thomas”.
It added he was a “step brother to Leoni and Kylie, dear brother in law of Jason and fond uncle.”
A statement by the family at the inquest said: “He will be sadly missed by us all.”
TV presenter Ross Kemp, who met Cpl Nickless in Afghanistan, also issued a post in tribute to him adding: “More needs to done to help ex-service people with mental health issues, particularly those with PTSD.”