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Canadian Veterans Advocacy Operations => Military Police Complaints Commission - Commission d'examen des plaintes concernant la police militaire => Topic started by: Canadian_Vet on September 03, 2012, 12:35:34 PM

Title: Soldier's mother wonders whether showing suicide video was worth it
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 03, 2012, 12:35:34 PM
Soldier's mother wonders whether showing suicide video was worth it
 
By Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press September 3, 2012 9:20 AM

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/national/Soldiers+mother+wonders+whether+showing+suicide+video+worth/7182843/story.html#ixzz25QVLnWxJ

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A photo of Cpl. Stuart Langridge is seen along with his beret and medals on a table during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday October 28, 2010 as his mother, Sheila Fynes, speaks about her son's battle with post-traumatic stress disorder and the ongoing struggle with National Defence following his death. A military watchdog's public hearings into the suicide of Cpl. Langridge resumes in Ottawa this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA - Sheila Fynes couldn't sleep most nights this summer, wondering whether she made the right decision in allowing a public inquiry to view a 34-minute military police video of her son's lifeless body hanging from a chin-up bar in his barracks.

The graphic, disturbing images of Cpl. Stuart Langridge, were never released to the news media, but the commission investigating the military's handling of his suicide played it in public, as part of a series of hearings last spring.

His mother and stepfather, Shaun Fynes, wrestled with the question of showing the video almost up until the day it was played.

"There are times when I think I've shared the most personal thing about Stuart's life and I hope, ... I hope it wasn't for nothing," said Sheila Fynes in an interview with The Canadian Press from her Victoria home.

Langridge hanged himself on March 15, 2008, and his body was left in place for four hours while investigators documented and searched through everything in the room.

The video sometimes zoomed in on his head and face. Federal lawyers representing the Defence Department argued in advance that if the video were to be shown, it would have to be in its entirety.

Sheila Fynes said that "at first, we said: No, we don't want anybody ever to see that."

"But then (after) discussions with our lawyer (and) between ourselves, we decided there would be no better way for the chair to understand our allegation of the total disrespect shown to Stuart in his death, than for him to see it."

After a pause, she added: "Was it the right decision? It keeps me awake at night."

Neither Sheila Fynes nor her husband were present when the video was played for the commission.

The Military Police Complaints Commission hearing into the Afghan vet's death resumes Wednesday, with testimony from Shaun Fynes.

In the coming weeks, the commission will put under the microscope not only the Defence Department's handling of the Langridge case, but also how it copes with soldiers suffering from mental illness and post-traumatic stress.

The inquiry also poses a political problem for the Harper government with Defence Minister Peter MacKay's refusal to hand over some internal documents to the military watchdog. That decision echoes a bruising fight with the commission previously over records relating to the treatment of Afghan prisoners.

The Defence Department refutes the claim Langridge suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, following a stint in Afghanistan. The doctor who made the diagnosis is soon to testify, along with military police investigators that are the subject of the complaint.

Members of the National Investigative Service are accused of conducting an inadequate, biased investigation aimed at exonerating the Canadian Forces.

Sheila Fynes says the coming set of hearings "will get to the heart of the matter."

Thus far, testimony from the military contends that Langridge, who also served a tour in Bosnia, was a troubled young man with an addiction to alcohol and cocaine. One expert witness traced the problems as far back as Sheila Fynes' divorce from her son's father.

The military withheld Langridge's suicide note from his family for 14 months, something for which it has apologized.

Yet a jumble of contradictions and missteps were exposed in testimony last spring.

At first, it was claimed Langridge had been under a "suicide watch" prior to his death. But a fellow soldier who attended him refused to describe it that way, saying it was only "a watch."

Witnesses also testified that the military consulted the family about the formulation of policy for dealing with loved ones, something Sheila Fynes angrily denies.

"What has surprised me the most is the levels Justice (department) lawyers have gone to try and paint a very damning picture of our son. And some of the things that have been said by witnesses are so contradictory, and some of the things are just plain, flat-out, vile lies," she said.

Just as the hearings recessed in June, complaints commission chair Glenn Stannard asked for partial access to documents that relate to the Langridge case but were written after military police investigators had been in touch with Defence Department lawyers.

MacKay, in a terse response, refused the plea and told the chairman not to talk to contact him again directly, but instead go through Justice Department lawyers.

That has galvanized one veterans group, which released a letter to MacKay demanding he waive solicitor-client privilege.

"I was quite disillusioned when reading your letter of response, Minister MacKay, not only from a sense of empathy for the Fynes family but to those military policemen who have been accused, our brothers in arms who have been subject to great stress and long-term concerns about potential disciplinary-career consequences," wrote Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy.

"You have an obligation to those that serve, sir, an obligation to accord to those who have been accused the opportunity to defend themselves with the full truth."
Title: Stepfather testifies at military inquiry into soldier's suicide
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 05, 2012, 07:46:55 PM
Stepfather testifies at military inquiry into soldier's suicide

By Leslie MacKinnon, CBC News
Posted: Sep 5, 2012 1:42 PM ET
Last Updated: Sep 5, 2012 5:25 PM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/09/05/pol-fynes-hearing-mpcc-langridge.html
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Shaun Fynes and his wife Sheila, parents of Cpl. Stuart Langridge, a soldier who killed himself in 2008, listen to testimony at a Public Interest Hearing at the Miliitary Police Commssion in March. Shaun Fynes was testifying at the hearing Wedneday. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press

A Military Police Complaints Commission has resumed its hearings Wednesday into allegations that the military mishandled its investigation into the death Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

Langridge hanged himself at CFB Edmonton in 2008 after several suicide attempts. Sheila and Shaun Fynes, his mother and stepfather, claim he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder due to his experiences on duty in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

The Fynes have complained that the military's investigation was biased and inadequate. They also say that the military erred in designating Langridge's next of kin and that it didn't disclose Langridge's suicide note for 14 months.

Shaun Fynes is on the witness stand Wednesday. Fynes, a former Toronto police officer and former Mountie, is chief of security and risk management for the B.C. government.

Fynes says he had a close bond with his stepson and encouraged him to join the military, and accused the military of killing his son in testimony that was often emotional and angry.

Read Leslie MacKinnon's live blog of Wednesday's testimony below.

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Shaun Fynes says he is here to "speak the truth". He is here first as Stuart's father he says, second as one versed in policing.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:06 PM 1:47 PM

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Stuart he says joined cadets at age 12. Later Fynes encouraged him to join reserves at age 17. They had a close bond, he says.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:08 PM 1:47 PM

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The last year of Stuart's life was an "anomaly". Fynes says he was blindsided by Stuart's 1st suicide attempt in 2007.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:08 PM 1:47 PM

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Fynes admits he thought the cocaine found in Stuart's blood after suicide attempt was just part of the suicide plan.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:10 PM 1:47 PM

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The Fynes believe that Stuart was self medicating, and npt addicted to drugs or alcohol.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:12 PM 1:47 PM

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Shaun Fynes' voice shakes at times, he's close to tears when remembering Stuart. He has a soft Irish? accent.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:13 PM 1:47 PM

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That last year, Stuart's life was a "slow speed train wreck". Stuart had to go round the military medical system to get help.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:15 PM 1:47 PM

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Stuart talked at times of leaving but Fynes says he loved the army. He and Sheila Fynes urged him not to throw it all away.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:16 PM 1:47 PM

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It is an affront Fynes says to suggest that Stuart fraudulently was seeking a medical discharge.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:17 PM 1:47 PM

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Fynes was informed by the military about Stuart's 1st suicide attempt - he didn't directly talk to Stuart about it.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:18 PM 1:47 PM

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But later on the phone he told Stuart he was a soldier, he'd been tested before, that the bad time would pass.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:24 PM 1:47 PM

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Fynes keeps stressing that Stuart loved being a soldier, that he couldn't bear the thought of failing as a soldier.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:25 PM 1:47 PM

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Fynes knows that during the 4 wks at the Alberta (mental) hospital Stuart was able to get cocaine.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:26 PM 1:47 PM

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Shaun Fynes says PTSD is mentioned several times in his medical files. Fynes says there must be a "threshold event".
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:27 PM 1:47 PM

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Fynes says Stuart wd't admit to a threshold event, until his time in Alberta hospital.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:28 PM 1:47 PM

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In hospital, Stuart realized the trigger was Bosnia and Afghanistan, but as a soldier he felt he couldn't talk about that.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:54 PM 1:47 PM

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Shaun Fynes says Stuart has been vilified - it's like blaming the rape victim. And no-one cared until he was dead.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:58 PM 1:47 PM

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I can't change the world says Shaun Fynes but I can do this, I can speak for Stuart so this doesn't happen to others.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:47:59 PM 1:47 PM

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Not til the military Board of Inquiry did the Fynes discover that Stuart had tried to kill himself 5 or 6 times.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:01 PM 1:48 PM

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But they knew of some suicide attempts. Stuart tried while in the Royal Alex hospital. They cdn't believe he was then discharged.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:02 PM 1:48 PM

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Fynes says that once back at the base, Stuart had a kind of seizure in the parking lot, his eyes rolled back.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:08 PM 1:48 PM

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Shaun Fynes believes that Stuart was under a suicide watch at the base, though the military denies this.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:09 PM 1:48 PM

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Fynes believes Stuart might have been "torqued right up" in barracks so he would break, and then military could fire him. Fynes is angry.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:10 PM 1:48 PM

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Fynes says Stuart was entitled to medical treatment he didn't get. His voice rises:"Stuart was killed by the military ".
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:12 PM 1:48 PM

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Fynes says Stuart's abandonment was negligence, that a Cdn vet shd't be treated this way. "It's disgusting what was done to my son. "
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:13 PM 1:48 PM

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DOJ lawyer Elizabeth Richard objects to Bd of Inquiry mention by Shaun Fynes. The MPCC by law cannot use evidence from an inquiry.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:13 PM 1:48 PM

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Sorry, that should be Department of Justice lawyer Elizabeth Richards. The Chair cautions Fynes about referencing BOI testimony.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:16 PM 1:48 PM
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Shaun Fynes says officially the military was unaware of Stuart's suicide attempts. But unofficially he says they did know.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:16 PM 1:48 PM
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Shaun Fynes says Stuart's suicide note said "I can't stand the pain anymore." Not, I want a drink, or a fix, or I miss my ex girlfriend.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:17 PM 1:48 PM
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But MPCC lawyer points out that when Stuart died he had more than a trace amount of cocaine in his blood.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:19 PM 1:48 PM
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Shaun Fynes holds that his son died of PTSD, and nothing else.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:23 PM 1:48 PM
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Shaun Fynes through tears relates the call from the military about Stuart's death. "My wife shrieked 'I told them this would happen. '"
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:24 PM 1:48 PM
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A huge issue has been why the military decided Stuart's ex girlfriend was primary next of kin. It was she who made the funeral arrangement
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:25 PM 1:48 PM
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But Shaun Fynes says it's the executor who decides on funeral arrangements. He was executor and in fact also primary next of kin.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:26 PM 1:48 PM
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It is a source of bitterness for the Fynes that they feel they were cut out of most of the funeral arrangements.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:28 PM 1:48 PM
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Shaun Fynes says Stuart's funeral was surreal: "I had to walk by my son's casket on his 29th birthday ".
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:29 PM 1:48 PM
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Photo of Shaun Fynes, Cpl. Stuart Langridge's stepfather at Military Police Complaints Commission.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:30 PM 1:48 PM
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The subject now is Langridge's will. The military found his first will dated 2002. An old friend David Whyte was named executor.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:31 PM 1:48 PM
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At that time Langridge's ex girlfriend was acting as next of kin and she directed Langridge's funeral.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:31 PM 1:48 PM
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Three months later a 2nd will was found naming Shaun Fynes as executor. He wishes he'd know earlier.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:48:34 PM 1:48 PM
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Langridge's death certificate was full of errors - it cost the Fynes $12,000 to have it changed -another grievance.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:49:06 PM 1:49 PM
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In October, 6 mos after the death, the military informed Fynes that he was the true next of kin. Insult after injury, Fynes says.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:51:16 PM 1:51 PM
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The miliary held a Bd of Inquiry into Langridge's death. We had great hopes of it going in, says Fynes; by the end we were crying foul.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 5:56:53 PM 1:56 PM
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During the Bd of Inquiry the Fynes got a letter saying they might have to pay for storage of Stuart's things which the military had seized.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 6:07:09 PM 2:07 PM
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The letter was an affront, says Fynes.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 6:07:37 PM 2:07 PM
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Another issue: certain things among Stuart's effects had gone missing: his special chair, a cherished Samurai sword.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 6:13:42 PM 2:13 PM
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Langridge's effects were to be shipped to Fynes but he had to be in Victoria to take delivery - except he was in Edmonton for the Inquiry.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 6:17:35 PM 2:17 PM
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There were many "Catch 22s" like this, Fynes implies.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 6:18:43 PM 2:18 PM
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Again Fynes uses the word "disgusting": these were a dead veteran's last wishes, his personal effects. They shd be treated with respect.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 6:21:46 PM 2:21 PM
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Back to the death certificate. It took 20 months to fix it says Fyness:"It was an extreme aggravation. "
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 6:30:25 PM 2:30 PM
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Had Fynes been the executor from the beginning, as he should have been,these errors would never have occurred, he says.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 6:31:50 PM 2:31 PM
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It seems to be some compensation Fynes is suggesting for the military naming Langridge's estranged girlfriend as next of kin at first.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 7:00:29 PM 3:00 PM
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Our son should not be dead. No-one's been accountable. There's been an attempt to blame the victim, Fynes says, his anger rising.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 7:03:14 PM 3:03 PM
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The treatment of the body:Allegation is the body was not cut down quickly.He was left to hang in the room says Fynes for hours.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 7:06:26 PM 3:06 PM
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Fynes reports that two findings of fact have been removed from the military investigation's conclusion: one, that alcoholism was to blame.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 7:34:21 PM 3:34 PM
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They acted as if they were military first,police second says Fynes.They were worried about protecting the brand, and not being police first
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 7:40:34 PM 3:40 PM
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Fynes says he believes that if a CF member attempts suicide, there shd be an investigation. And there shd be suicide prevention policies.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 7:43:49 PM 3:43 PM
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But there wasn't, and that's negligence says Fynes, negligence causing death.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 7:44:44 PM 3:44 PM
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Fynes says the military finished its investigation in 3 mos but hung on to Stuart's possessions - his Bible, his AA pamphlets. Why he asks.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 8:01:00 PM 4:01 PM
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Fynes concludes for today: you have a sick soldier and have undertaken responsibility for his care and he ends up dead.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 8:32:14 PM 4:32 PM
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Shaun Fynes is back on the stand tomorrow at the MPCC, starting at 9am.
by LeslieMacKinnon via twitter 9/5/2012 8:33:03 PM 4:33 PM
Title: Soldier who committed suicide was 'killed' by the military: stepfather
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 05, 2012, 08:55:58 PM
Soldier who committed suicide was 'killed' by the military: stepfather

The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, Sep. 5, 2012 1:45PM EDT

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/soldier-who-committed-suicide-was-killed-by-the-military-stepfather-1.943569

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Shaun Fynes and his wife Sheila, parents of Cpl. Stuart Langridge, a soldier who killed himself in 2008, listen to testimony at a Public Interest Hearing at the Miliitary Police Commssion in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. (Fred Chartrand / THE CANADIAN PRESS_

OTTAWA -- A Canadian Forces soldier who took his own life "ping-ponged" between a civilian medical system that didn't want to deal with him and a military system that didn't know what to do with him, his grieving stepfather told an inquiry Wednesday.

The often emotional, heart-rending testimony from Shaun Fynes about the troubled last years and death of Cpl. Stuart Langridge was at once an ardent defence of the young man's character and an angry indictment of the Canadian military.

"Stuart didn't fall between the cracks, he was stuffed between the cracks," Fynes told the Military Police Complaints Commission, which is holding a hearing into allegations that the investigation into Langridge's suicide was biased.

"He ricocheted through the system and ping-ponged between provincial hospitals that didn't want anything to do with him, and the medical unit that didn't know what to do with him," Fynes testified.

"They couldn't figure out who was co-ordinating his care and who was responsible for his care. Stuart didn't stand a chance. He was killed by the military."

The commission's inquiry, which began last spring and resumed Wednesday after a summer hiatus, had previous heard testimony about Langridge's spiral into a haze of alcohol and drugs following tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Fynes acknowledged the young soldier's fight with alcohol, but testified that it was "self-medication" for the depression and post-traumatic stress he suffered while overseas.

The military disputes the PTSD claim and has essentially laid the blame for the suicide on the drug problems of Langridge -- who had previously tried to take his own life -- and what it described as a tumultuous personal life.

The commission has heard that Langridge, almost a year before his death, sought a medical discharge. In the weeks leading up to his suicide, he checked himself into civilian mental health care in Edmonton.

But he was persuaded to return to the garrison, where he was not placed in a military hospital, but in barracks where he eventually killed himself.

The military has presented a jumble of conflicting statements about whether he was placed on suicide watch, but the commission has heard from a witness who would describe it only as a "watch."

Military police interviews with the regimental sergeant-major, who is responsible for ensuring discipline within a unit, revealed that conditions were placed on Langridge, who was told he would get access to a bevy of treatment options within the military system provided his conduct remained good.

Fynes said he believes the military was trying to build a case for dismissal against a soldier who up until that point had never been in trouble.

"My son was a soldier who was injured, and he was punished and disciplined for the symptoms of that injury," he testified.

"He had self-confessed to those issues. He had asked for help. He was absolutely participating in attempts to improve his own care."

An autopsy found no alcohol in his system at the time of Langridge's death, but it did find a measurable quantity of cocaine.

His stepfather said that finding should not distract from the central issue, which he considers the failure of the military to properly take care of its own.

"Stuart was a veteran. He was an injured veteran," Fynes said. "He was entitled to medical treatment that he didn't get."
Title: The military killed my son, Langridge’s father tells inquiry
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 05, 2012, 10:49:40 PM
The military killed my son, Langridge’s father tells inquiry

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/military+killed+Langridge+father+tells+inquiry/7196219/story.html#ixzz25egWBGTY
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Often on the verge of tears Wednesday, former police officer Shaun Fynes told a federal inquiry into the 2008 death of his stepson, Cpl. Stuart Langridge, that the army had humiliated and neglected his son.
Photograph by: JULIE OLIVER , OTTAWA CITIZEN

OTTAWA — The father of an Afghan veteran who killed himself after a long struggle with mental illness lashed out at his son’s army bosses Wednesday.

Choking back emotion, and often on the verge of tears, former police officer Shaun Fynes told a federal inquiry into the 2008 death of his stepson, Cpl. Stuart Langridge, that the army had humiliated and neglected his son.

“It was disgusting what they did to my son,” he said. “He was killed by the military.”

Langridge hanged himself in March 2008 after several suicide attempts and after a long struggle with alcohol and drugs.

“Our son died because of untreated PTSD,” said Fynes, a seasoned investigator who now heads security for the B.C. government.

“This is not the way a Canadian veteran should be treated,” he added. “He was an injured veteran who deserved treatment he didn’t get. He didn’t fall between the cracks, he was stuffed between the cracks.”

The military claim 28-year-old Langridge was an alcoholic and drug abuser. That, not PTSD, was at the root of his problem, they say.

Fynes was testifying at the Military Police Complaints Commission which is hearing a litany of complaints about the investigation into Langridge’s suicide.

Fynes and his wife, Sheila, say detectives in the military’s National Investigation Service (NIS) were biased and deliberately “glossed over” evidence that would have reflected badly on the military.

“They spent more time protecting the brand than they did investigating,” said Fynes, who questioned whether the NIS officers were “military first and police second.”

Rather than conducting an open-minded investigation, he claimed, the military police detectives constructed a scenario that blamed Langridge for his own death.

“Our son should not be dead and nobody has been made accountable for that,”added Fynes. “(Instead) there has been an incredible effort to blame the victim and exonerate the military.”

Langridge’s superiors at CFB Edmonton ordered the soldier back to base after he had finished a month’s mental health treatment and immediately ordered him to work doing largely menial tasks such as polishing silverware and shovelling snow.

He killed himself shortly after.

The Fynes say their son wanted more help for his illness but he was denied.

“His treatment was abusive and disgusting,” he said. “He wanted to get back to being a good soldier. Stuart wasn’t just a soldier, he loved the army. It was who he was.”

Fynes slammed the military’s attitude toward PTSD and said his son had tried to hide his mental illness because he knew it would damage his career.

“It was a slow speed train wreck,” he said. “He was struggling with PTSD. He was a poster boy for PTSD. He was in such despair.”

The family is also angry at the way Langridge’s body was left hanging for more than four hours while police examined his room and its contents.

“Stuart was hanging in the doorway,” said Fynes. “He should have been cut down immediately and shown some respect. He should not have hung in a corner like a piece of meat.”

Fynes began his testimony reiterating that neither he nor his wife is seeking financial compensation from the federal government.

“I can’t change the world,” he said, “but I can change this for Stuart and for other people’s sons and daughters.”

The inquiry continues Thursday.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Title: Withholding soldier's suicide note for 14 months sign of coverup: stepfather
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 06, 2012, 09:24:30 PM
Withholding soldier's suicide note for 14 months sign of coverup: stepfather

By: Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press

Posted: 9:16 AM | Comments: 3 | Last Modified: 3:07 PM

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/withholding-soldiers-suicide-note-for-14-months-sign-of-cover-up-stepfather-168762156.html

OTTAWA - A Canadian soldier's suicide note was withheld from his parents for 14 months by military police in what Cpl. Stuart Langridge's stepfather calls a calculated deception.

Shaun Fynes, in his second day of testimony before a public inquiry, said he believes his son's last communication was kept back to protect the military.

"My son had (post-traumatic stress disorder), he was in pain and he couldn't take it anymore," Fynes testified Thursday. "That was the truth of that note and that was part of the coverup."

The Canadian Forces National Investigative Service says it held on to the note because it was evidence in an ongoing investigation.

It acknowledges 14 months does not represent "expeditious" handling of the note, but has never explained why it needed to keep it beyond the first few days of the investigation.

"I am left to conclude it was not inept and it was a very calculated deception designed to protect the uniform from embarrassment," Fynes said.

The family has never received a formal apology regarding the note, although the military has conceded it was wrong to withhold it.

Fynes says when the family did finally receive the note, it was a photocopy, and they had to demand the original.

The Military Police Complaints Commission is examining whether the military investigation into Langridge's March 2008 death was biased.

At one point, as the family searched for answers, the military investigators refused to meet Fynes because they anticipated he might take legal action.

"It speaks to an attempt to protect the image and the brand," Fynes said. "It doesn't speak to police work — or my understanding of police work, or the independence of police work to conduct a fair and impartial investigation."

The family had not threatened to sue over the death, but had filed a statement of claim to recover money they felt was owed to their son's estate, Fynes added.

That claim was dropped.

Justice Department lawyer Elizabeth Richards challenged the notion that military covered up the suicide in order to avoid embarrassment, pointing to its role in catching serial killer Russell Williams, a former air force colonel.

"So you agree there are incidents and circumstances where military police do investigate senior leadership within the Canadian Forces and do lay charges?" she asked.

"And you're aware the National Investigative Service has been involved in (investigating) alleged drug use by members of the Canadian Forces?"

"I'd certainly hope so," Fynes answered.

"And that's something in fact you wanted investigated, and you'd agree with me that's something that might be embarrassing," Richards continued.

Langridge struggled with alcohol and drug addiction during the last few years of his life following tours of duty in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

He had five — possibly six — previous suicide attempts.

The military disputes the claim the 28-year-old veteran suffered from post-traumatic stress and blames his suicide on addictions and turmoil in his personal life.

The lawyer for the commission said it's been unable to find any medical report that indicates "a primary diagnosis" of PTSD, although some of the records suggest Langridge should have been examined further for the condition.

Richards pointed to medical records from several institutions which stated that Langridge suffered an alcohol-induced mood disorder, as well as alcohol and cocaine dependency.

"I suggest to you that in all the medical records, the medical professionals considered that the substance abuse was the illness," she said.

She also noted one report that said Langridge, while in civilian rehab, smuggled cocaine into the hospital.

"I will go to my grave believing my son suffered with PTSD because his behaviour changed so markedly," said Fynes.

Michel Drapeau, the lawyer for the parents, said regardless of whether there was a formal diagnosis of PTSD, the medical records show a young man in distress and they only underline that the military had an obligation to care for him.

The actions of the military in the days leading up to the death were put under the microscope with Fynes' testimony.

Prior to hanging himself in a barracks room, Langridge had spent 30 days in a civilian hospital, but was persuaded to return to the Edmonton garrison upon completion of his stay.

Fynes said his son expected to be admitted to a military hospital or treatment program, but instead found himself placed in barracks and treated as a "defaulter."

The military admits to placing Langridge on restrictions, which included menial tasks, such as shovelling snow.

His regimental sergeant-major told military police investigators that the young man was being given an opportunity to prove his worth as a soldier, according to transcripts already filed with the commission.

But Fynes said it "humiliated" the young man before his regiment — something that ultimately drove him to take his life.

The family demanded military police conduct a criminal negligence investigation, which did not happen.

At the end of Fynes' testimony, commission chair Glenn Stannard addressed both parents, reminding them that the watchdog agency doesn't have the jurisdiction to comment on what sort of medical treatment Langridge should — or should not — have received.

He expressed sympathy for their plight.

"We're here to rule on whether the military conducted a proper investigation," said Stannard.

"There are some of those issues that are in your heart and are upfront that you may not hear from us, but it's not because we don't care."
Title: Canadian Forces investigators slammed at Langridge inquiry
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 06, 2012, 11:05:27 PM
Canadian Forces investigators slammed at Langridge inquiry

Shaun Fynes accuses NIS of coverup in stepson's suicide
By Leslie MacKinnon, CBC News
Posted: Sep 6, 2012 10:55 AM ET
Last Updated: Sep 6, 2012 8:37 PM ET
Read 3 comments3

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/09/06/pol-fynes-inquiry-mpcc-stuart-langridge.html
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Shaun Fynes, seen with his wife wife Sheila earlier this year, has accused Canadian Forces investigators of failing to uncover the reason for the suicide death in 2008 of his stepson, Cpl. Stuart Langridge. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The stepfather of a soldier who hanged himself at CFB Edmonton in 2008 has accused Canadian Forces investigators of being primarily concerned with shielding the military from embarrassment rather then finding out the reason for his son's suicide.

Shaun Fynes, the stepfather of Cpl. Stuart Langridge, raised the allegation during his second day of testimony at the Military Police Complaints Commission in Ottawa, which is examining whether the military investigation into Langridge's March 2008 death was biased. The investigation was carried out by the military's National Investigative Service (NIS).

His voice often shaking with emotion or barely restrained anger, Fynes, a former Toronto police officer and former RCMP investigator who is now chief of security for the British Columbia government, said his son loved being a soldier. But he said Langridge became sick and broken, a poster boy for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused by tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Fynes accused the military of killing his son by not treating his condition but instead urging him to go back to barracks, where in apparent isolation and humiliated by being treated as a defaulter, he killed himself. Langridge had tried to kill himself at least five times before in serious attempts that sometimes landed him in hospital.
Named as executor

The Fynes have complained that the military designated Langridge's girlfriend as his next of kin, even though the two had separated. A month later, the military revealed that Langridge had named Shaun Fynes as executor of his will and his mother as primary next of kin, but that paperwork had been lost behind a filing cabinet.

That doesn’t pass "the giggle test," Fynes said. He believes the military blocked his role as executor to deny him status in asking questions about his son’s death.

However, it was the withholding of Langridge's very personal suicide note to his parents for 14 months, Fynes said, that caused him to completely lose faith in the military.

"My son had [post-traumatic stress disorder], he was in pain and he couldn't take it anymore," Fynes testified. "That was the truth of that note and that was part of the coverup."

    'My son … was in pain and he couldn't take it anymore. That was the truth of that note and that was part of the coverup.' — Shaun Fynes, stepfather of Cpl. Stuart Langbridge

There was no sign that the note had forensic value, Fynes said. Instead, he said, the note is evidence his son had PTSD because Langridge wrote that he couldn’t take the pain anymore.

The military contends that Langridge was an alcoholic and drug addict who was suffering from depression.

The NIS said it held on to the note because it was evidence in an open investigation. It acknowledges 14 months does not represent "expeditious" handling of the note, but has never explained why it needed to keep it beyond the first few days of the investigation.

"I am left to conclude it was not inept and it was a very calculated deception designed to protect the uniform from embarrassment," Fynes said.

The family has never received a formal apology regarding the note, although the military has conceded it was wrong to withhold it. When the family did finally receive the note, Fynes said, it was a photocopy, and they had to demand the original.
Meeting refused

At one point, as the family searched for answers, military investigators refused to meet with Fynes because they anticipated he might take legal action.

"It speaks to an attempt to protect the image and the brand," Fynes said. "It doesn't speak to police work — or my understanding of police work, or the independence of police work to conduct a fair and impartial investigation."

Later, the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) lawyer asked Fynes whether Langridge had been officially diagnosed with PTSD. Fynes replied that he would "go to my grave believing that Stuart had PTSD."

MPCC chair Glenn Stannard gently reminded Fynes that the MPCC can rule only on the conduct of the military police, not on whether Langridge received proper medical treatment.

The hearing into Langridge’s death will continue into October. Seventy witnesses have appeared so far. The dozen that remain are the NIS officers who investigated Langridge's suicide.

Title: La police militaire accusée d'avoir caché la note de suicide d'un caporal
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 06, 2012, 11:06:59 PM
La police militaire accusée d'avoir caché la note de suicide d'un caporal

Publié par La Presse Canadienne le jeudi 06 septembre 2012 à 12h19.

http://www.985fm.ca/national/nouvelles/la-police-militaire-accusee-d-avoir-cache-la-note-169796.html

OTTAWA - La note de suicide d'un caporal canadien qui s'est enlevé la vie en 2008 a été retenue par la police militaire pendant 14 mois avant que les parents du défunt puissent prendre connaissance de son contenu.

Le caporal Stuart Langridge s'est donné la mort il y a quatre ans. Dans sa lettre d'adieu, il explique qu'il n'arrivait plus à supporter la douleur de vivre.

Son beau-père Shaun Fynes, qui témoigne dans le cadre d'une enquête publique de la Commission d'examen des plaintes concernant la police militaire, accuse les Forces armées canadiennes d'avoir voulu garder le silence dans ce qui a toutes les apparences d'une «tromperie délibérée», selon lui.

Il ajoute que la famille n'a même jamais reçu l'original du document, ayant dû se contenter d'une photocopie.

De son côté, le Service national des enquêtes des Forces canadiennes (SNEFC) reconnaît que le document n'a pas été remis aux parents rapidement, mais se justifie en soulignant qu'il s'agissait d'une preuve dans le cadre de son enquête sur la mort du caporal Langridge. Aucune explication n'a cependant été donnée à savoir pourquoi la lettre en question a été conservée aussi longtemps.

La commission doit déterminer si le SNEFC a mené une enquête impartiale sur le suicide du caporal Langridge.
Title: Soldier's family out of pocket $10,800 to correct death certificate
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 11, 2012, 10:25:33 AM
Soldier's family out of pocket $10,800 to correct death certificate

Murray Brewster, Monday, September 10, 2012 5:48 PM

Read it on Global News: Global Regina | Soldier's family out of pocket $10,800 to correct death certificate

http://www.globalregina.com/canada/role+of+military+lawyers+in+handling+of+soldiers+suicide+questioned/6442712114/story.html
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A photo of Cpl. Stuart Langridge is seen along with his beret and medals on a table during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday October 28, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA - The family of a Canadian soldier who committed suicide spent just over $10,800 in court costs to correct mistakes made in the young soldier's death certificate and registration, errors for which they blamed National Defence.

But their lawyer, retired colonel Michel Drapeau, says a potential legal claim was dropped because Cpl. Stuart Langridge's parents feared it would create the perception they were out to profit from the 28-year-old's death.

Shaun and Sheila Fynes were also worried a lawsuit would impede an inquiry currently taking place before the Military Police Complaints Commission, he added.

"We had to drop it in order to strip the department of any claim to litigation privilege," Drapeau said.

Among other things, the death certificate listed the wrong next-of-kin and other "egregious errors," which the Fynes petitioned to have changed.

The parents were not asking for compensation for their son's death, but in warning of court action they were instead trying to recover the cost associated with correcting the legal, public record as it related to Langridge, who killed himself at his Edmonton barracks in March 2008.

"They would never ask for compensation — ever," Drapeau said.

National Defence claims it had no hand in the death registration, but the family pointed out members of their son's regiment were on hand when it was filled out along with Langridge's ex-girlfriend.

The Fynes' threat of a lawsuit and the issue of solicitor-client privilege are at the heart of Defence Minister Peter MacKay's claim that the government must withhold certain documents from the inquiry commission.

Records that have been disclosed are so blacked out, they can easily be taken out of context, and the government is in "damage control and they're pushing back and it's like pulling teeth" to get information out of them, Drapeau said.

The federal government is covering the family's cost of legal representation as well as travel and expenses to attend the inquiry, he added.

But critics say it was granted "grudgingly" at the last minute before the opening of hearings.

"They certainly didn't do it with an open heart," said New Democrat veterans critic Peter Stoffer, who called on the Harper government to reimburse the family for the death certificate fix.

"The government should, with absolutely no estimation, pay that money back outside of the legal process. This is money they shouldn't even have to be suing for because (National Defence) screwed up and that cost the Fynes family $10,000."

Liberal MP Sean Casey, also a veterans critic, said "the government seems incapable of admitting mistakes. They're hiding behind solicitor-client privilege in order to justify untenable positions."

Langridge's parents accused military police of botching the investigation into his death by not pursuing a criminal negligence or even a disciplinary probe into the actions of members of the Lord Strathcona's Horse Regiment.

They say the veteran of Bosnia and Afghanistan suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and was pushed over the edge following a month of civilian hospital care by the military's humiliating treatment of him.

The military disputes the PTSD claim and has presented medical records that state Langridge suffered from drug and alcohol addiction.

Expert testimony before the inquiry Monday looked at the question of whether military lawyers could — or would — cover up negligent performance of colleagues.

Lt.-Col. Bruce MacGregor, a former Crown prosecutor and senior officer at the military's Judge Advocate General branch, testified that military police and investigators seek advice from uniformed lawyers before laying charges.

Much of his testimony was in the abstract and meant to lay the foundation for the appearance later this week of the military police officers who investigated the death.

MacGregor defended the sweeping use of solicitor-client privilege when it comes to investigation reports and advice that found its way up the chain of command to chief of defence staff's office — records the family maintains are crucial to understanding what happened.

"You have to have a free and frank ability to discuss certain things and sometimes an investigator might be going down a road that isn't the best legal path to take," he said.

"And you have to be able to sit there and you have to have an open and frank dialogue between the investigator and the prosecutor. If everything that is being said between and investigator and prosecutor is ultimately going to be disclosed, you're not going to get a freedom of thought."
© The Canadian Press, 2012

Read it on Global News: Global Regina | Soldier's family out of pocket $10,800 to correct death certificate
Title: PTSD diagnosis questioned in soldier suicide
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 11, 2012, 12:44:24 PM
PTSD diagnosis questioned in soldier suicide

September 11, 2012 Updated: September 11, 2012 | 10:53 am

By Staff The Canadian Press

http://metronews.ca/news/canada/365566/ptsd-diagnosis-questioned-in-soldier-suicide/

OTTAWA – A psychologist who assessed a Canadian soldier who killed himself says tests suggested Cpl. Stuart Langridge suffered from post-traumatic stress following tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

But in testimony before an inquiry into the death, Dr. William Lai stops short of describing his findings as a diagnosis, instead calling it a working hypothesis that required more interviews.

Part of the problem was that Langridge denied he from suffered post-traumatic stress in interviews conducted at the Edmonton garrison a year before he killed himself in 2008.

The issue of whether the young veteran suffered from the disorder is material to the claim by his parents that the military didn’t get Langridge the help he needed and drove him to take his own life.

Lai, a Defence Department contract psychologist, says while he couldn’t provide a definitive opinion, he cannot rule out that Langridge suffered from PTSD.

The Military Police Complaints Commission has made it clear that it will not rule on the medical treatment the 28-year-old received — or did not receive— but will only look at whether military cops botched the investigation into his death.
Title: Soldier who killed himself 'likely' had post traumatic stress: psychologist
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 11, 2012, 02:48:09 PM
Soldier who killed himself 'likely' had post traumatic stress: psychologist

Tuesday, 11 September 2012 11:48 Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press


http://www.lethbridgeherald.com/national-news/soldier-who-killed-himself-likely-had-post-traumatic-stress-psychologist-20120911.html

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assessed a Canadian soldier who killed himself was never contacted by military police in the investigation that followed Cpl. Stuart Langridge's death, a public inquiry was told Tuesday.

Dr. William Lai, a Defence Department contract psychologist, heard from the military only once following the 28-year-old's suicide in March 2008.

"Somebody contacted me about having to appear before some sort of hearing," Lai told the Military Police Complaints Commission. "I don't remember exactly what the organization was called, but subsequently, I was told I was not required."

The commission is examining whether military police conducted a biased investigation into Langridge's death, a probe that critics have since alleged was predisposed towards exonerating the Canadian Forces.

Lai testified that Langridge, who'd served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, "likely" suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, an assessment he based on a psychological questionnaire patients are required to fill out.

But he stopped short of describing his findings as a diagnosis, instead calling it a "working hypothesis" that required more interviews.

"I don't know if anything can be definitive," Lai said Tuesday under questioning by a commission lawyer. "There was a note to the effect that this particular patient should be investigated further in order to confirm, I suppose, the diagnosis."

The follow-up did not happen within the military system and Langridge eventually sought treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in a civilian hospital.

Lai was asked whether PTSD could be ruled out and he responded emphatically: "No, you cannot rule it out at this point."

Part of the problem in hammering down a diagnosis was that interviews conducted at the Edmonton garrison, Langridge denied having suffered from post-traumatic stress.

He was referred to Lai almost a year before his death, and met with the psychologist on at least two occasions.

Langridge expressed reluctance to talk about his experiences, according to Lai's report, and expressed fear about how a PTSD claim might impact his military career.

The issue of whether the young veteran suffered from the disorder is material to the claim by his parents that the military didn't get Langridge the help he needed and drove him to take his own life.

In its defence, the military has said it doesn't believe the PTSD claim and insisted Langridge took his own life as a result of his addictions and a personal life that was in turmoil.

The Military Police Complaints Commission has made it clear that it will not rule on the medical treatment the 28-year-old received - or did not receive - but will only look at whether military cops botched the investigation into his death.

The soldier who found the body also testified on Tuesday.

Roger Hurlburt, a former master corporal with the Lord Strathcona Horse Regiment, testified that there were rumours about Langridge, and his addiction battles, in the weeks leading up to his death.

As the regiment's duty driver on the day in question, Hurlburt was given no special instructions to keep an eye on his fellow trooper, and agreed with previous witnesses who denied that Langridge had been placed on a suicide watch.

Langridge took his own life after he was discharged from an Edmonton hospital and persuaded to rejoin the regiment, where he was placed on restrictions and told he'd get access to the bevy of military programs if his behaviour remained good.

His parents have described their son's treatment as humiliating and claim it sent him over the edge.
Title: DND’s shameful denials in soldier’s suicide
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 12, 2012, 03:54:03 PM
DND’s shameful denials in soldier’s suicide

By Peter Worthington ,QMI Agency

First posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 03:08 PM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 03:20 PM EDT

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/09/12/dnds-shameful-denials-in-soldiers-suicide
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TORONTO - An added tragedy to the suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge in Edmonton barracks in 2008, is not that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but that to the day he died he loved the army and relished being a soldier.

The statement in his suicide note that he could “no longer stand the pain,” probably reflected his emotional confusion of being an excellent soldier and liking the army, yet unraveling emotionally from what he’d seen and endured in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

To his mother, Sheila Fynes, this aspect “just breaks your heart.”

Also upsetting was that inexplicable errors were made in Langridge’s death certificate, his place of birth, the wrong next of kin, and other registration errors.

DND at first would not release the suicide note and absolved itself of blame or responsibility for errors made in the soldier’s death certificate.

In efforts to correct the record, Shaun and Sheila Fynes have sought the help of retired Col. Michel Drapeau, Canada’s top lawyer in military matters, who knows first hand the reluctance of DND to either admit or correct errors.

The Fynes have spent over $10,000 since 2008, in efforts to get DND to make corrections of original errors in their son’s death. They dropped a lawsuit, for fear it would look as if they were trying to profit from the death.

Instead, they want the record corrected — not much to ask, it would seem, since all the particulars about Cpl. Langridge would have had to come from DND, and not from the soldier’s girlfriend as DND has implied.

In life, the 28-year-old Langridge was a top athlete (Iron Man competitions) and a member of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse — arguably Canada’s best-known an armoured regiment.

PTSD is the mystery affliction of the military, both in Canada and the U.S. It can lie dormant in a person, to surface after the person has left the military. It can be triggered by something not necessarily related to military service.

That said, PTSD is still not well understood.

Drapeau notes that often there are symptoms, or signs of stress — drinking too much and, too often, taking various drugs — all of which were evident in Langridge when he returned to Canada. He sought treatment in hospitals and from the military.

Shaun Fynes, told the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) that his stepson “ping-ponged between provincial hospitals that didn’t want anything to do with him, and the (army) medical unit that didn’t know what to do with him.”

That’s the story of unknown numbers of PTSD soldiers.

Both Mrs. Fynes and Col. Drapeau note that there is almost a “tsunami of PTSD cases occurring, especially in the U.S.”

“In the army soldiers don’t dare talk about it, or seek treatment, for fear they’ll be identified as looney,” said Col. Drapeau. By its reluctance to be forthcoming in Langridge’s case, DND creates the impression that there was something shameful to hide.

To Sheila Fynes, the “pain” her son felt he could no longer live with, was that he loved the army “and he must of felt that he was not worthwhile as a soldier, and this was humiliating to him.” Suicide must have seemed his only option.

In fact, he was an excellent soldier and recognized as such in army assessments.

There’s since been suggestions by DND that he may have had mental problems before joining the army, some eight years before he died. That’s improbable. Anyone entering the army is screened before admission. Soldiers today are above average.

There are reports that the federal government has agreed to cover the family’s costs of legal representation before the MPCC inquiry.

One hopes so.
Title: Military investigator pressed about Langridge suicide watch
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 12, 2012, 06:28:32 PM
Military investigator pressed about Langridge suicide watch

By Leslie MacKinnon, CBC News
Posted: Sep 12, 2012 4:36 PM ET
Last Updated: Sep 12, 2012 4:34 PM ET
Read 1 comments1

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/09/12/pol-mpcc-fynes-inquiry-stuart-langridge.html

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A member of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service says he believed Cpl. Stuart Langridge, who'd attempted suicide at least five times, was not on a suicide watch at the time he killed himself in barracks at CFB Edmonton.

Warrant Officer Jon Bigelow was testifying at a Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry Wednesday, the first time it heard from one of the NIS members who investigated Langridge's suicide.

Bigelow said his unit was aware there was some evidence Langridge was on a suicide watch — which, if true, he said, meant that military staff could be subject to charges of conduct unbecoming or criminal negligence. However Bigelow said today that he didn't think that Langridge was on a suicide watch.

"I don't think there's any definitive evidence that he was," Bigelow testified.

"So, because there was nothing definitive that he was on a suicide watch, you concluded that he wasn't?" asked the MPCC lawyer. "After the fact, yes," replied Bigelow.

Langridge's parents, Shaun and Sheila Fynes, contend their son was indeed on a suicide watch and that the military was negligent. The MPCC is hearing their complaint that the military mishandled the investigation into the death of their son. Thirteen members of the military are the subjects of the complaint, including Bigelow.
Treated as potential crime scene

Bigelow said that he arrived at CFB Edmonton barracks at about 5 p.m. on March 15, 2008 and didn't leave until 2 in the morning. The event was treated as a potential crime scene, Bigelow said.

Bigelow admitted Langridge's body showed no signs of a struggle. Nevertheless, his team took extensive photographs and video of the body as well as the room and Langridge's possessions, and held back a suicide note addressed to Langridge's parents.

Bigelow said that he was asked to make a photocopy of the suicide note to give to the provincial medical examiner. He wore gloves while handling it but admitted that the note was never forensically examined for fingerprints.

The Fynes weren't given the note until 14 months later.

Bigelow said that his unit was determined to find out why Langridge committed suicide in order to "provide closure to the family." He says he doesn't know why doctors from the Alberta Hospital, where Langridge had recently been committed for 30 days, were not interviewed.

The military eventually concluded that Langridge killed himself due to drug and alcohol addiction, and depression about his estranged girlfriend. His parents say he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following his tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Tuesday, the inquiry heard from Dr. William Lai, a Defence Department contract psychologist who testified that Langridge "likely" suffered from PTSD, an assessment he based on a psychological questionnaire patients are required to fill out.

He stopped short of describing his findings as a diagnosis, instead calling it a "working hypothesis" that required more interviews. But when asked whether PTSD could be ruled out, he responded emphatically. "No, you cannot rule it out at this point."

Sgt. Matthew Ritco, the NIS investigator who lead the investigation into Langridge's suicide, will appear at the MPCC Thursday.
Title: Langridge inquiry: Peter MacKay must hand over information and apologize
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 12, 2012, 06:57:53 PM
2012 09 12
Langridge inquiry: Peter MacKay must hand over information and apologize

St. JOHN’S – NDP Defence Critic Jack Harris called again for the Government of Canada to hand over information to the Military Police Complaints Commission as part of their inquiry into the death of Corporal Stuart Langridge.

 “What’s been revealed so far should make the Minister of National Defence act,” said Harris. “He needs to be open with the Fynes family and apologize for his past statements.”

 There were new revelations at the inquiry today concerning the fact that investigators left Corporal Langridge’s body hanging for 90 minutes.

 On June 20 Harris said in the House of Commons “what Corporal Langridge saw in Afghanistan was so traumatic that he could not explain it to his family or his therapist. He self-admitted to hospital. He needed to be on suicide watch but he was not given that protection.”

 The response from the Minister of Defence? “None of what he said is actually true.”

 “Surely now is the time for the Minister to provide a substantive response from the Minister,” said Harris. “The family needs answers.”
Title: Soldier's parents battling feds to correct death certificate errors
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 13, 2012, 05:30:37 PM
Soldier's parents battling feds to correct death certificate errors

Peter Worthington, QMI Agency
Today at 3:11 PM

TORONTO - An added tragedy to the suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge in Edmonton barracks in 2008, is not that he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but that to the day he died he loved the army and relished being a soldier.

The statement in his suicide note that he could "no longer stand the pain," probably reflected his emotional confusion of being an excellent soldier and liking the army, yet unraveling emotionally from what he'd seen and endured in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

To his mother, Sheila Fynes, this aspect "just breaks your heart."

Also upsetting was that inexplicable errors were made in Langridge's death certificate, his place of birth, the wrong next of kin, and other registration errors.

DND at first would not release the suicide note and absolved itself of blame or responsibility for errors made in the soldier's death certificate.

In efforts to correct the record, Shaun and Sheila Fynes have sought the help of retired Col. Michel Drapeau, Canada's top lawyer in military matters, who knows first hand the reluctance of DND to either admit or correct errors.

The Fynes have spent over $10,000 since 2008, in efforts to get DND to make corrections of original errors in their son's death. They dropped a lawsuit, for fear it would look as if they were trying to profit from the death.

Instead, they want the record corrected not much to ask, it would seem, since all the particulars about Cpl. Langridge would have had to come from DND, and not from the soldier's girlfriend as DND has implied.

In life, the 28-year-old Langridge was a top athlete (Iron Man competitions) and a member of the Lord Strathcona's Horse arguably Canada's best-known an armoured regiment.

PTSD is the mystery affliction of the military, both in Canada and the U.S. It can lie dormant in a person, to surface after the person has left the military. It can be triggered by something not necessarily related to military service.

That said, PTSD is still not well understood.

Drapeau notes that often there are symptoms, or signs of stress drinking too much and, too often, taking various drugs all of which were evident in Langridge when he returned to Canada. He sought treatment in hospitals and from the military.

Shaun Fynes, told the Military Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) that his stepson "ping-ponged between provincial hospitals that didn't want anything to do with him, and the (army) medical unit that didn't know what to do with him."

That's the story of unknown numbers of PTSD soldiers.

Both Mrs. Fynes and Col. Drapeau note that there is almost a "tsunami of PTSD cases occurring, especially in the U.S."

"In the army soldiers don't dare talk about it, or seek treatment, for fear they'll be identified as looney," said Col. Drapeau. By its reluctance to be forthcoming in Langridge's case, DND creates the impression that there was something shameful to hide.

To Sheila Fynes, the "pain" her son felt he could no longer live with, was that he loved the army "and he must of felt that he was not worthwhile as a soldier, and this was humiliating to him." Suicide must have seemed his only option.

In fact, he was an excellent soldier and recognized as such in army assessments.

There's since been suggestions by DND that he may have had mental problems before joining the army, some eight years before he died. That's improbable. Anyone entering the army is screened before admission. Soldiers today are above average.

There are reports that the federal government has agreed to cover the family's costs of legal representation before the MPCC inquiry.

One hopes so.
Title: Live blog: Military complaints commission hearing Friday, Sept. 14
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 14, 2012, 11:46:53 AM
Live blog: Military complaints commission hearing Friday, Sept. 14

The Citizen's Chris Cobb reports Friday, Sept. 14 from a hearing to examine the investigation by military police after Stuart Langridge's suicide in March 2008
 
September 14, 2012 8:23 AM

see the live tweets http://www.ottawacitizen.com/News/Canada/Live+blog+Military+complaints+commission+hearing+Friday+Sept/7242232/story.html

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/News/Canada/7183627.bin

Title: NIS Rewrote Suicide Investigation Report, Removing Potentially Damaging Referenc
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 14, 2012, 12:03:40 PM
Senior Canadian Forces National Investigation Service Officers Rewrote Suicide Investigation Report, Removing Potentially Damaging References to the Military, Inquiry Hears

September 14, 2012. 10:36 am • Section: Defence Watch

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2012/09/14/senior-canadian-forces-national-investigation-service-officers-rewrote-suicide-investigation-report-removing-potentially-damaging-references-to-the-military-inquiry-hears/

Chris Cobb of the Ottawa Citizen had this article on today’s front page:

OTTAWA — Superiors of the lead military investigator in the Stuart Langridge suicide case slashed and censored their subordinate’s final summary of the case, a shocked federal inquiry heard Thursday.

Military Police Complaints Commission lawyer Mark Freiman dropped the bombshell towards the end of a day of dramatic testimony by Sgt. Matthew Ritco, the investigator chosen to handle the Langridge case the day the Afghanistan war veteran hanged himself in March 2008.

The re-written report — absent potentially damaging references to the military and less than half the length of Ritco’s original — was the National Investigation Service’s (NIS) ‘official’ version sent to the base commander at CFB Edmonton where Langridge hanged himself.

Despite being re-written and censored by his superiors, Ritco’s name remained on the report as its author and the title of the report also remained the same.

The stunning revelation appears to confirm claims by Langridge’s parents Shaun and Sheila Fynes that elements in the NIS were biased in favour of the military and doctored their report accordingly.

“It’s shades of Somalia,’ said the Fynes’ lawyer Michel Drapeau told the Citizen after the hearing. “It’s unheard of. We are shaking our heads.

“This NIS Case Summary was ghost written by the NIS chain of command,” he added. “This is a cause for concern, and evidences our allegation that there is a lack of independence within the NIS.”

Key elements censored by Ritco’s superiors include all but one reference to whether Langridge was on a suicide watch before he died, and whether he was on “defaulters” — or being disciplined.

The reference to a suicide watch remaining in the re-written report is supportive of brass at CFB Edmonton: “Cpl Langridge was not on defaulters nor was he on a suicide watch,” reads the reference.

Ritco’s original report includes several references to a suicide watch, most significantly the fact that a list of names was drawn up at the request of the regimental sergeant major to watch Langridge round the clock if it became necessary.

Ritco says the instruction was “to obtain a list of personal (sic) available to assist in a suicide watch on Cpl. Langridge.”

Also absent from the rewritten report is reference to an interview Ritco conducted with a master corporal at the base who stated categorically she was ordered to draw up the list.

According to previous evidence, Langridge accidentally saw an email the master corporal wrote about the list and she was later verbally disciplined for putting the words ‘suicide watch’ in an email subject line. There has been ongoing debate and contradiction throughout the inquiry as to whether Langridge was on an official suicide watch. There is still no clear answer but the implications are potentially serious.

If the troubled suicidal soldier was on an official 24-7 watch when he killed himself, it could have led to criminal negligence charges against his base superiors. But more significant to the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry is the fact that NIS brass chose to censor potentially damaging references.

Ritco’s original case summary was dated May 30, 2008. The edited, censored version was dated June 2, 2008.

Ritco, a rookie investigator at the time, told commission lawyer Freiman that he had expressed “concern” to his superiors about his name being on the doctored report, but they told him “ ‘that’s the way we want it done.’ It was a direction that came down from higher.”

A clearly surprised commission chairman Glenn Stannard, a former Windsor, Ont., police chief, said he was “confused” as to why there had to be two reports.

“You’re the lead investigator,” he said to Ritco. “Why is there a different case summary? Why does it have to be altered?”

Ritco said his superiors told him they would “fix it up” and it would read better.

“But it’s different,” responded Stannard. “The facts are different … and it’s less than half of yours.”

“Yes,” replied Ritco. “I did have issues with my name being up there. If something should happen, and we come to something like this (a public inquiry) everybody will assume I wrote it.”
Title: Lead investigator rebuked at suicide inquiry
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 14, 2012, 06:38:35 PM
Lead investigator rebuked at suicide inquiry

September 14, 2012 Updated: September 14, 2012 | 5:41 pm

http://metronews.ca/news/canada/370037/lead-investigator-rebuked-at-suicide-inquiry/

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A photo of Cpl. Stuart Langridge is seen along with his beret and medals on a table during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 28, 2010. A last-minute witness has been added to the public hearing into the suicide of a Canadian soldier and that is prompting a flurry of objections from federal lawyers. Mark Freiman, who represents the Military Police Complaints Commission, says the witness came forward just recently and has something relevant to add to the investigation into the handling of Cpl. Stuart Langridge's death. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Piercing, uncomfortable moments of silence filled the air Friday as the chairman of a military watchdog agency rebuked and lectured the Canadian Forces investigator who probed the 2008 suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

Glenn Stannard, a former police chief, systematically ripped apart some of Sgt. Matthew Ritco’s most important assumptions about the Langridge’s death — perceptions that it turns out shaped almost the entire investigation.

“You’re a police officer … Stuart Langridge was counting on you investigating,” Stannard told Ritco at the end of a 20-minute barrage of pointed questions and clarification that at times bordered on a stern lecture.

That observation prompted Langridge’s mother, Sheila Fynes, to drop her glasses and burst into tears.

“In all of your training, did you ever hear the phrase, or hear the phrase from anybody — from your mother to police training — ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated?’ Stannard said, looking directly at Ritco.

“Do you think that happened here?”

Throughout almost two complete days of testimony, Ritco defended and apologized for some of the most egregious mistakes in the investigation, most notably his decision to withhold Langridge’s suicide note from the family for 14 months.

Ritco explained he felt he was handling evidence and didn’t want to rule out foul play too quickly.

He said he treated the March 2008 death as a possible homicide until he was convinced beyond a shadow of doubt — three months later — that Langridge, a troubled veteran of military action in Bosnia and Afghanistan, had indeed died by his own hand.

The repeated assertion left Stannard incredulous.

“The issue of suicide could potentially have been determined long before the date of June,” the chairman said. “The issue of whether Stuart Langridge hanged himself could have been concluded much sooner.”

Stannard led the rookie investigator through evidence at the scene, including a door locked from the inside, no signs of forced entry or a struggle, a suicide note, the coroner’s statement that it was a “classic suicide,” and the position and condition of the body.

When put on the spot by Stannard, Ritco had trouble recounting the textbook definition of lividity — post-mortem discolouration of the skin — and what it tells investigators.

“Given that it was my first suicide … ” the military cop began to say.

Stannard quickly shut him down. “I don’t care if it your first or your 50th.”

The uncomfortable, at times painful, exchange was punctuated by long moments of awkward silence.

“I did not intentionally try to do any harm to anyone here, sir,” Ritco said at one point.

The Military Police Complaints Commission is examining whether military police conducted a biased investigation into Langridge’s death, setting out from the beginning to smear the troubled soldier whose drug and alcohol problems had seen him in and out of hospital.

Inquiry lawyers separately delved into other aspects of how Ritco handled the case, questioning why he didn’t interview Langridge’s ex-girlfriend, who testified she’d been assured that Langridge had been placed on suicide watch.

Ritco said he and his case supervisor decided not to talk to her, even though she was initially listed as an important witness.

Ritco was also questioned about the fact his final report on the death was heavily rewritten and censored.

On Thursday, he said “direction that came down from higher” to create two case summary files — one written by him, and another rewritten version to be delivered to the chain of command, including Langridge’s commanding officer.

The final draft removed all but one reference to the victim having been on suicide watch before his death, an important point in the question of whether the military was negligent in handling Langridge’s case.

If Langridge had died while under such strict supervision, it would have obliged military police to open a criminal negligence investigation.

Ritco had earlier testified that he had “issues” with his name being on the second version of the report, given that two other people worked on it, but he backed away from his initial remarks as the inquiry resumed Friday.

He told the inquiry that he stands by both versions of the report as a fair representation of his investigation.

“My only concern was … just by my name being on the top of that text box; not the content, just the name,” he said.

Military police did not initially look at whether members of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) regiment were culpable — something the family has insisted should have been done from the outset.

Ritco’s confrontation with Stannard wasn’t the only source of drama Friday.

A last-minute witness was added to the list of those scheduled to testify, prompting a flurry of objections from federal lawyers.

Mark Freiman, who represents the complaints commission, said Kirk Lackie, a personal friend of Langridge, came forward to declare he has something relevant to add to the investigation.

Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Richards said bringing in a surprise witness may not be fair to the military investigators who conducted the probe.

Richards said she’s also concerned because the witness has a criminal record and the Crown knows little about him.
Title: Un témoin surprise s'ajoute à une enquête sur le suicide d'un soldat canadien
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 15, 2012, 09:28:04 PM
Un témoin surprise s'ajoute à une enquête sur le suicide d'un soldat canadien

Publié par La Presse Canadienne le vendredi 14 septembre 2012 à 13h35.
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OTTAWA - Un témoin de dernière minute a été ajouté à une audience publique sur le suicide d'un soldat canadien, et le geste a suscité de vives objections de la part d'avocats du gouvernement fédéral.

Selon Mark Freiman, qui représente la Commission des plaintes concernant la police militaire, le témoin ne s'est manifesté que récemment et sa déclaration aurait un impact important sur l'enquête entourant les suites de la mort du caporal Stuart Langridge.

Ce nouveau témoin est Kirk Lackie, un ami du défunt.

Aux yeux de l'avocate Elizabeth Richards du ministère de la Justice, toutefois, l'ajout d'un nouveau témoin pourrait se révéler injuste envers les policiers militaires accusés d'avoir mené une enquête partiale sur le suicide.

Me Richards dit également être inquiète du fait que M. Lackie possède un dossier criminel et que la Couronne ne sait que peu de choses à son sujet.

Le président de la commission doit entendre les arguments sur cette question plus tard vendredi.
Title: P1Hearing Cpl Langridge suicide – (Chair) vs Lead CF NIS Investigator (VIDEO)
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 16, 2012, 05:22:04 PM
Part 1

[youtube]http://youtu.be/6ZTij7F5qr0[/youtube]
Title: Friend says military failed to keep close watch on soldier who killed himself
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 19, 2012, 05:25:44 PM
Friend says military failed to keep close watch on soldier who killed himself
 
By Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press September 19, 2012 2:20 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Friend+says+military+failed+keep+close+watch+soldier+killed/7266335/story.html#ixzz26xF6EJVk

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Veteran Kirk Lackie testifies at the Military Police Complaints Commission in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - A former soldier says the military failed to keep a close enough eye on a suicidal Afghan vet the day he killed himself.

Kirk Lackie testified Wednesday at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into Cpl. Stuart Langridge's death.

The inquiry was called following complaints from his family that the investigations into Langridge's suicide were botched.

Lackie was a last-minute addition to the witness list; he asked to testify.

"I want Stu's ma and everybody to know the truth about what's going on because right from the get-go, other names have been named and whatever, and the truth has not been told," Lackie said at the close of emotional testimony.

He had met Langridge early in their training and formed a bond that later deepened over their shared struggles with addiction.

The inquiry has previously heard that Langridge drank and used drugs, and was in and out of rehab. There has also been significant disagreement about whether he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He had tried to kill himself on previous occasions.

Langridge was aware he had problems, Lackie said, but they were difficult for him to overcome.

"It's hard to think you're addicted when you are already drunk," Lackie testified.

Lackie said everyone on the base knew about Langridge's struggles, but dismissed them.

"There's a saying: the army uses you like a tissue paper. As soon as they're finished with you, like a tissue paper they throw you away," Lackie said.

"And Stu, was to them, a really dirty tissue paper. They threw him away, but they just didn't want to throw him away, they wanted to scoop him under the carpet."

The night before Langridge killed himself, Lackie said he tried to take him to a Alcoholics Anonymous counselling session, but the soldier refused.

The next day, Lackie was in the base's duty centre and happened to see the logbook set up to monitor Langridge.

Langridge had been placed on a suicide watch and someone was supposed to check on him roughly every 30 minutes.

That wasn't what the logbook showed, Lackie said.

"And I said to the duty driver, it's been three and half hours since someone checked on Stu. I said why don't you fly ... over there and check on him?" Lackie testified.

But elements of Lackie's recollection were questioned by both lawyers for the commission and the Crown.

Commission counsel suggested the soldiers Lackie said he spoke to that day weren't actually working, while the Crown wondered why none of the ones who have previously testified mentioned Lackie's presence on that day.

"That's because he's still in the military," Lackie replied.

Lackie said a few minutes after someone left to check, he heard sirens and then overheard an expletive-laden phone call.

He said it was then he knew that Langridge had died. The soldier had hanged himself in his barracks.

It was later that year that Lackie began a series of run-ins with the law, including one incident where he barricaded himself inside his home — with two guns, ammunition and explosives — and told police they'd have to take him out with a shot to the head.

He later surrendered without incident and pled guilty on a number of related charges. He also pled guilty to later incidents involving breaches of his probation and impaired driving.

Lackie's criminal record was cited as a concern by the Crown when it opposed his appearance on the stand.

Two Ottawa police officers were present in the complaints' commission room Wednesday, saying they were there to provide added security.

Lackie was released from the military in 2010.

Over those years, he testified that he tried to tell military personnel what happened the day of Langridge's death but no one ever contacted him.

Commission lawyers said there were no records of his attempts to contact military police.

But Lackie was finally interviewed last week.
Title: Soldier who led investigation into vet's suicide defends conclusions
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 21, 2012, 01:01:55 AM
Soldier who led investigation into vet's suicide defends conclusions

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/soldier-who-led-investigation-into-vet-s-suicide-defends-conclusions-1.965244#ixzz274wYrhJr

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A photo of Cpl. Stuart Langridge is seen along with his beret and medals on a table during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 28, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, Sep. 20, 2012 8:05PM EDT

OTTAWA -- A soldier tasked with reviewing an investigation into an Afghan vet's suicide defended himself Thursday against allegations of bias.

Sgt. Scott Shannon led the final investigation into how the military handled the life and death of Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

But his conclusions -- that no one in the military broke any rules in their dealings with Langridge or his family -- are part of a continuing inquiry at the Military Police Complaints Commission.

The inquiry was called following three years of what Langridge's family called flawed and biased investigations into what happened in the days before and after Langridge killed himself in 2008.

But during a day-and-half of often-combative testimony at the inquiry, Shannon insisted his review was thorough and detailed.

At issue is the refusal of the military to tell the family there had been a suicide note; how officers decided who would plan the funeral; and how they treated Langridge's continuing struggles with addiction and possibly post traumatic stress disorder.

Shannon, who has conducted 109 investigations in his six years with the National Investigative Service, had been tasked with reviewing prior investigations into those problems.

Langridge hanged himself in his Edmonton barracks following prior suicide attempts and hospitalization and treatment for addiction.

In the days before his death, he had been on strict supervision on the base in what his family and friends considered a suicide watch.

At one point, the inquiry heard that he said he'd rather kill himself than return to his unit.

But Shannon said that statement was among the facts he considered irrelevant as he reviewed whether the military's treatment of Langridge constituted either criminal negligence or violation of military law.

The possibility of criminal charges had been raised by Langridge's mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes.

Nor did his addictions or mental-health issues factor in to determining whether the threshold of criminal negligence on the part of the military was met, the inquiry heard.

It's impossible to pin responsibility for a suicide, Shannon said.

"I'm not Cpl. Langridge. He's the only person who can answer that question," Shannon said.

As for the specific complaints of failure to carry out military duties in the wake of Langridge's suicide, Shannon said the military followed all the existing rules and procedures.

He said when they decided Langridge's longtime girlfriend was his next of kin, they did so appropriately, based on the "customs of society" that consider a spouse to be someone's next of kin.

He told the inquiry that to arrive at his overall conclusions he focused on available documents and transcripts from prior interviews.

"The evaluation of the documents speak louder than any statements made by an individual four years after the fact," Shannon said.

Shannon said he drew his understanding of the facts of the case from the hundreds of pages contained in the files, as well as his prior experience as an investigator.

But he was grilled by commission counsel, as well as lawyers for the Fynes family and the commission chair, as to how he arrived at his conclusions.

"What if your interpretation of a document, by your interpretation ... what if you were wrong?," Glenn Stannard, the commission chair asked.

Shannon acknowledged that if had he been wrong, the rest of his investigation was flawed but said he had all the information he needed.

He said his investigation wasn't about whether the military's decisions in the Langridge case were right or wrong but whether they broke any rules.

He called allegations of bias in his investigation unfair, noting that he worked alone and often on his personal time on the investigation.

"I have lived up to my obligations and my promises to Mrs. Fynes," Shannon said.
Title: ‘We go where the truth leads us,’ retired NIS investigator tells Langridge inqui
Post by: CVA_Posting on September 21, 2012, 07:19:08 PM
‘We go where the truth leads us,’ retired NIS investigator tells Langridge inquiry

By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen September 21, 2012 7:02 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/where+truth+leads+retired+investigator+tells+Langridge+inquiry/7281565/story.html#ixzz279OwuOnh

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OTTAWA — A former high-ranking military detective refused to comment Friday when asked at a federal inquiry whether his lead investigator should have probed deeper into the circumstances surrounding the 2008 suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Langridge.

“You’re asking me to voice my opinion,” said retired operations Warrant Officer Sean Bonneteau, who left the military last year. “I don’t know how my opinion would help in these circumstances. I have an opinion on a lot of things — whether or not that would assist the hearing — I can’t see it would.”

Bonneteau, a former senior investigator with the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (NIS), told Military Police Complaints Commission lawyer Mark Freiman that he trusted subordinate Sgt. Scott Shannon.

Shannon, who testified through two days earlier in the week, was assigned to investigate complaints by Langridge’s parents that the initial investigation into their son’s death was biased in favour of the military.

Shannon told the inquiry that he only consulted documents and transcripts from the initial interview before deciding early in his assignment that Langridge’s superiors at CFB Edmonton had no legal case to answer and that his NIS colleagues had conducted the investigation fairly.

“Evaluation of documents speak louder speak louder than any individual,” Shannon told the inquiry.

Bonneteau was part of a group of senior NIS officers for whom Shannon prepared a power point presentation that effectively rejected every complaint made by Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Shaun and Sheila Fynes.

Chief among their complaints was that Langridge’s superiors were guilty of negligence in his death.

“Did I agree or disagree with the briefing Sgt. Shannon provided?” said Bonneteau. “I would have to say I agreed with it.”

“You sure you had enough factual background to make that decision?” asked Freiman.

“No,” replied Bonneteau, “but I put my trust in the investigators.”

Freiman read an account of the last 10 days of Langridge’s life during which the suicidal 28-year-old was ordered back to his base against his will, denied a request for further treatment, given menial tasks and placed under strict conditions.

Langridge had told a doctor that he would rather kill himself than return to his base.

Ten days later he hanged himself.

Although several witnesses have testified that Langridge was on an official suicide watch, the military denies he was.

Freiman asked Bonneteau whether the circumstances surrounding the soldier’s suicide might have warranted further investigation by Shannon — including interviewing suspects and gathering other evidence.

“I wasn’t present during the investigation,” replied Bonneteau. “I wasn’t part of the investigation. For me to make a comment on that would be irresponsible.”

Freiman told the retired officer that he was not asking for him to comment on whether the original investigation was “correct or incorrect” but whether there was enough evidence to warrant a review that went beyond the examination of documents.

Asked by his lawyer, federal Justice Department lawyer Korinda McLaine, to respond to accusations that the NIS was not independent, Bonneteau said the military detective agency was fiercely independent.

“Nobody tells us what to do or where to go,” he said. “We go where the facts are. We go where the truth leads us. It’s part and parcel of being independent.”

The inquiry, which is scheduled to end mid-October, continues Monday.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Title: Langridge family’s lawyer questions military investigators’ methods
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 24, 2012, 08:57:59 PM
Langridge family’s lawyer questions military investigators’ methods
 
By Chris Cobb, Ottawa September 24, 2012 6:02 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Langridge+family+lawyer+questions+military+investigators+methods/7292112/story.html#ixzz27RL9UjHn

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OTTAWA — Military detectives investigating the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Stuart Langridge were left to their own devices and got little or no direction from superiors, the lawyer for the late soldier’s family claimed Monday.

After testimony at the Military Police Complaints Commission from a second National Investigative Service (NIS) supervisor, lawyer Michel Drapeau said major decisions in the Langridge case were made by a single investigator and apparently accepted by superiors with little discussion.

Sgt. Scott Shannon, an investigator assigned to assess the validity of complaints by Langridge’s mother and stepfather Sheila and Shaun Fynes, told the commission last week that he did not interview any witnesses before coming to the conclusion that the complaints had no basis.

“Evaluation of documents speak louder than any individual,” he said.

Shannon’s superiors accepted his opinion.

The Fynes claim that the military was negligent in the treatment of Langridge, who was ordered back to his regiment at CFB Edmonton after 30 days of psychiatric treatment and refused permission for further treatment.

Langridge, who had attempted suicide several times, had been struggling with depression and alcohol and drug abuse.

Drapeau said he was “baffled” by the “extraordinary decision” not to interview witnesses who would have helped build a case for, or against, the Fynes’ complaints.

“From a practical, realistic, common-sense approach that’s what you’d want to do,” he said. “You leave no stone unturned. You follow the evidence. It would have cost very little to have done those interviews. Maybe the result would have been the same but at least you would have had complete answers.

“It seems to me,” added Drapeau, “that to make an arbitrary decision to close that door brings into question the investigative procedures being used. I question their utility, their efficiency and capacity to say, ‘We have done a complete investigation.’”

During testimony Monday, Warrant Officer Blair Hart supported Friday’s testimony by his former NIS colleague and fellow supervisor, retired Warrant Officer Sean Bonneteau.

Both said that they put trust in their investigators and insisted that the NIS is “fiercely” independent.

“My investigators were free to conduct their investigations, I didn’t micromanage,” said Hart.

But the veteran military policeman rejected Drapeau’s suggestion that investigators are left to their own devices.

“You were aloof in the supervision of this investigation,” said Drapeau. “Would that be correct?”

“No sir.”

“They (investigators) were required to brief members of the command team,” said Hart, who added that supervisors also monitored computer updates investigators are required to file.

It was also normal, he added, to do an initial assessment before pushing on with a full investigation.

“If it’s founded, we launch into an investigation,” he said. “If we can put the allegations to rest at that time, that’s as far as it goes.”

But after listening to the Bonneteau and Hart testimony, Drapeau told the Citizen he was not convinced the investigators case were properly supervised.

“I found that the investigators were left to their own devices and received very little guidance or direction,” he said. “That’s a concern. I would have liked to have seen two or three minds on it.”

The inquiry continues Thursday.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Langridge+family+lawyer+questions+military+investigators+methods/7292112/story.html#ixzz27RLHvpyt
Title: The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti: The death of Corporal Stuart Langridge -
Post by: Canadian_Vet on September 25, 2012, 06:41:28 PM
The death of Corporal Stuart Langridge

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 | Categories: Episodes

Listen in http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2012/09/25/the-death-of-corporal-stuart-langridge/

We don’t know how many soldiers deployed to Afghanistan returned so troubled and broken that they tried to take their own lives. But we do know one family’s search for answers about their son’s suicide has led to a months-long inquiry of heartbreaking detail. Corporal Stuart Langridge took his own life four years ago after returning from Afghanistan. His parents Sheila and Shaun Fynes are ready to tell their story today.

The death of Corporal Stuart Langridge

For more than 50 days, Sheila Fynes has sat in a small windowless room in Ottawa listening and trying to understand how and why their son could have been so desperate that he was driven to suicide.

Corporal Stuart Langridge served in the Canadian army in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Four years ago, after returning to Canada he took his life.

His parents, Sheila and Shaun Fynes say he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the military botched the investigation into his death. The military defends its investigation, but the Fynes pushed for a hearing with the Military Police Complaints Commission, a process that is underway now.

Shiela Fynes is the mother of Corporal Stuart Langridge. She was in Ottawa. And Shaun Fynes is his step father. He was in Victoria.

We did request an interview with someone from the Department of National Defence to respond to the Fynes. Our request was denied.

This segment was produced by The Current's Ellen Saenger.
Title: Top military cop denies general’s comments prejudiced investigation
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 04, 2012, 10:29:39 PM
Top military cop denies general’s comments prejudiced investigation

By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen October 4, 2012 9:01 PM

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Maj. Daniel Dandurand, former head of the military’s National Investigation Service (NIS) western region, testifies Wednesday before the Military Police Complaints Commissioninto allegations the NIS whitewashed and fast-tracked three separate investigations and ignored crucial evidence to protect the military after Afghan veteran Stuart Langridge hanged himself.
Photograph by: Michael Tansey , Special to the Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — A rare “letter to the editor” in which Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk apparently predicted the outcome of a military police probe into the suicide of Afghan veteran Stuart Langridge had no affect on investigators, a top military cop insisted Thursday.

Maj. Daniel Dandurand, former head of the military’s National Investigation Service (NIS) western region, said Natynczyk is a man of “humility” and if his internal police force showed him evidence that he was wrong, the top soldier would accept it.

The Langridge inquiry before the Military Police Complaints Commission is hearing allegations from Langridge’s mother and stepfather Sheila and Shaun Fynes that the ostensibly independent NIS whitewashed and fast-tracked three separate investigations and ignored crucial evidence to protect the military.

The couple say that their emotionally unstable son was suffering from war-related post-traumatic stress disorder and that at least two of his army superiors at CFB Edmonton ordered him back to base and ignored his pleas for more treatment.

The military denies the accusation and says Stuart, an abuser of alcohol and drugs, was the author of his own misfortune.

He hanged himself 10 days after being ordered back at the end of 30 days’ psychiatric treatment.

Commission lawyer Mark Freiman read from Natynczyk’s 2010 letter — published while an NIS investigation into the Fynes complaints was still ongoing — and shortly after he had publicly apologized to the Fyneses for a breakdown in communications.

“Langridge received sound medical care from the best of what provincial and military medical systems can provide,” he wrote. “Sadly, despite the efforts of many assisting health care professionals, his close friends and the leaders of his regiment it was not enough. Last week I apologized for a mishandling of communications with the family of Langridge. I was not apologizing for the comprehensive medical care he received from some of the finest civilian and military practitioners the country has to offer; nor for the CF actions to respect and fulfill his last will and wishes.”

Dandurand agreed that the defence chief’s letter “touches directly” on his team’s investigation of the Langridge.

“Does it cause any concern,” Freiman asked, “when the chief of defence staff makes remarks that could be understood as him having come to conclusions about the ... investigation that for all the public knew was still open?”

“That doesn’t cause me great concern,” replied Dandurand. “Generals, particular of his calibre, are not absent of humility, and should our investigation (have) turned that opinion around full circle he would be prepared to deal with that in accordance with whatever best practice he would put into play.”

A skeptical-sounding Freiman asked: “So you have the highest military person in your chain of command commenting on an investigation that is still open, and offering conclusions ... that does not cause you any concern?”

“No, it doesn’t.”

During a day of intense questioning, Freiman read from internal military correspondence that showed that after Sheila Fynes held a “tell all” news conference in Ottawa two years ago, the internal military public relations machine cranked into top gear with high-level brass exchanging dozens of emails with Dandurand and his superiors.

Fynes got widespread media coverage that resulted in Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s criticizing the treatment she had received.

Freiman asked Dandurand about a special “Fynes Task Force” created within the Department of National Defence to handle all of the family’s dealings with the military.

“I didn’t view it as a take force per se,” said Dandurand. “There were various people that I know of who were involved in providing answers to the Fynes.”

Asked by Freiman if he knew any more about the task force, what it’s intentions were and how it operated, Dandurand replied:

“I can’t answer that right now.”

The inquiry continues

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Title: DND edited report on Langridge suicide, inquiry told
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 06, 2012, 09:22:33 AM
DND edited report on Langridge suicide, inquiry told

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OTTAWA -- Dogged by increasingly negative media coverage over the handling of investigations into the suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Langridge, the Department of National Defence edited an internal police force report before releasing it publicly and to the soldier's family, a federal inquiry heard Friday.

The revelation at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry was one of several indications that the independence of the National Investigation Service (NIS), the military's detective agency, was compromised after Langridge's parents went public with their grievances.

The military interfered with the report "while preparing it for publication" in a pre-emptive effort to avoid a "sensational fact" getting to the media, said Commission lawyer Mark Freiman.

Throughout the months-long inquiry, a succession of NIS officers have repeated that their agency is fiercely independent and investigates regardless of rank.

The NIS was investigating complaints by Langridge's mother and stepfather Sheila and Shaun Fynes that the original investigation into their son's death had been a whitewash to protect the military.

Two of their complaints related to the length of time their son's body was left hanging in a room at CFB Edmonton -- "like a piece of meat," said his mother -- and another about the withholding of Langridge's suicide note for 14 months.

Sheila Fynes came to Ottawa in late 2010 and held a news conference to air her complaints. The subsequent blast of publicity brought statements about the case from Defence Minister Peter MacKay and a partial apology from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk.

The first case report written in early 2011 by the NIS and sent to DND brass in Ottawa contained the length of time -- four and a half hours -- their son had been left hanging during the NIS investigation and references to the suicide note.

DND officers cut the "four and a half" hour reference and one reference to the suicide note before sending it to the Fynes' and apparently preparing it for public release.

Freiman asked former NIS western region commander Daniel Dandurand if there had been any reason for the regular Canadian Forces to edit an NIS document.

"Is it of any concern to you?" he asked.

"That would cause me some concern," replied Dandurand. "That the answers we were providing -- whatever those may be -- are being edited or changed while being transmitted to the family. Yes."

"From the point of view of the NIS is there any reason why the reference to the body hanging for four an a half hours would be removed?" Freiman asked.

"I can't think of anything," said Dandurand. "The Fynes' knew that."

"Does it suggest to you that it was a sensational fact that might find its way into the media?" asked Freiman.

"I don't know," said Dandurand. "I wouldn't be able to speak to what was going on in the person's mind doing that."

Freiman then produced NIS "media lines" about the case that Dandurand helped prepare with the police force's own public relations officer, and disseminated to other public relations officers in the Canadian Forces and ultimately to the media.

The media lines related to the end of the investigation and an announcement that the NIS had found no grounds to lay criminal or service charges.

Freiman read one of the "key messages" in the NIS media lines and asked Dandurand what it had to do with the NIS.

"The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces cares deeply about its personnel and their families and aspires to treat all members of the CF family with respect."

"What part of the NIS mandate, and what part of the NIS investigation is reflected in this message?" asked Freiman.

"I can't help but avoid being a member of the Canadian Forces and I'm quite proud at being so," said Dandurand. "And that definitely reflects my Canadian Forces hat as opposed to my military police hat and whether you (say) Canadian Forces or National Investigation Service the message is the same: We do care deeply."

"Should there be a mixing of your Canadian forces NIS hat and your Canadian Forces hat?" asked Freiman.

Dandurand said the media lines were likely shared with other public affairs officers in the regular military and did not, as Freiman suggested, mean that the regular military public relations arm would be taking over NIS media messages.

"I think it was to maintain situational awareness as to what each of them were dealing with," he said.

Earlier in his testimony, Dandurand said that some facts in media lines fed to journalists about the Langridge case were inaccurate -- a point raised Friday by Fynes' lawyer Joshua Juneau.

"If the Department of National Defence, with roughly 150 public affairs advisers are spending all this energy creating media lines that contain falsehoods how can we ever trust or believe the content of the media lines put out by the Department of National Defence?"

"I don't think it's my place to comment on that,' said Dandurand. "I'm not here to speak for DND."

The inquiry continues Tuesday and is due to end Wednesday.

Ottawa Citizen

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Title: DND Were Allowed to Remove Material Embarrassing to the CF From NIS
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 07, 2012, 03:31:50 PM
National Investigation Service Supposed To Be Independent But Military/DND Were Allowed to Remove Material Embarrassing to the CF From NIS Investigation Into Soldier’s Suicide

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2012/10/06/national-investigation-service-supposed-to-be-independent-but-militarydnd-was-allowed-to-remove-material-embarrassing-to-the-cf-from-nis-investigation-into-soldiers-suicide/

My colleague Chris Cobb had this article on today’s front page:

OTTAWA — Dogged by increasingly negative media coverage over the handling of investigations into the suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Langridge the Department of National Defence edited an internal police force report before releasing it publicly and to the soldier’s family, a federal inquiry heard Friday.

The revelation at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry was one of several indications that the independence of the National Investigation Service (NIS), the military’s detective agency, was compromised after Langridge’s parents went public with their grievances.

The military interfered with the report “while preparing it for publication” in a pre-emptive effort to avoid a “sensational fact” getting to the media, said Commission lawyer Mark Freiman.

Throughout the months-long inquiry, a succession of NIS officers have repeated that their agency is fiercely independent and investigates regardless of rank.

The NIS was investigating complaints by Langridge’s mother and stepfather Sheila and Shaun Fynes that the original investigation into their son’s death had been a whitewash to protect the military.

Two of their complaints related to the length of time their son’s body was left hanging in a room at CFB Edmonton — “like a piece of meat” said his mother — and another about the withholding of Stuart’s suicide note for 14 months.

Sheila Fynes came to Ottawa in late 2010 and held a news conference to air her complaints. The subsequent blast of publicity brought statements about the case from Defence Minister Peter MacKay a partial apology from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk.

The first case report written in early 2011 by the NIS and sent to DND brass in Ottawa contained the length of time (four and a half hours) their son had been left hanging during the NIS investigation and references to the suicide note.

DND officers cut the “four and a half” hour reference and one reference to the suicide note before sending it to the Fynes’ and apparently preparing it for public release.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/edited+report+Langridge+suicide+before+releasing+public/7352076/story.html
Title: Editorial: Inquiry into soldier’s suicide grows more disturbing
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 08, 2012, 02:41:14 PM
Editorial: Inquiry into soldier’s suicide grows more disturbing

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/story_print.html?id=7346277&sponsor=

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It’s getting difficult to suppress a genuine sense of outrage with each passing day of the controversial federal inquiry into the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

That inquiry resumed in Ottawa this week, after a two-month summer break, with the focus on some of the National Investigation Service officers who are the principle subject of the Langridge family’s complaint that the Canadian military whitewashed the investigation into his death at CFB Edmonton in 2008. Testimony this week concerning the handling of Langridge’s suicide note, withheld from his family for more than a year, has been particularly astounding.

Langridge, a veteran of Bosnian and Afghanistan tours, hanged himself after a long struggle with drugs and alcohol. He was 28 and had attempted suicide several times.

The Military Police Complaints Commission is holding the inquiry in response to claims by Sheila and Shaun Fynes, Langridge’s mother and stepfather, that three military inquiries into their son’s death were biased in favour of the military.

The Fynes maintain that their son’s treatment at CFB Edmonton contributed to his death. He killed himself shortly after being ordered back to his barracks following a 30-day stay at a psychiatric unit, and after being placed on a five-day work week of menial tasks such as snow clearing and trophy polishing.

His parents say their son was suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The military denies Langridge had PTSD and says his problems were rooted in alcohol and drug abuse.

Among the most damning evidence to date has been the admission by military police that they withheld Langridge’s suicide note from his parents for 14 months. In that note, Langridge asked for a simple, family-only funeral. He received a full military service and his parents have said they were devastated when they discovered his final wishes had been hidden from the family. The military eventually apologized for the delay in turning over the note but it hasn’t been clear why it was withheld in the first place. This week the mystery has only grown.

After initially being impounded by the National Investigation Service as evidence, the note was never examined, according to the chief military investigator on the case, but instead placed in storage and “forgotten.”

Even when the Fynes became aware of the note, the military remained reluctant to turn it over. One detective assigned to the case actually suggested the Fynes might better pursue the matter — a rendering of their son’s final words — through a federal Access to Information request.

When it became clear the note’s existence was on the verge of becoming public, obviously rattled military personnel prepared “media lines,” essentially an approved series of responses, that contained misleading and erroneous information.

Since it first convened in March, the Langridge commission has sparked numerous angry clashes with the Conservative government over the censoring and withholding of Defence Department documents related to the case.

The commission has heard from more than 70 witnesses now, most of them military, and will likely draw to a close next week. There has been plenty of testimony about the carefully considered and strictly observed military protocols and procedures that attended Langridge’s death, and all the nuanced evidentiary rules that were followed. Precisely the sort of by-the-book treatment that, in real life, so often fails to detect a tree within the forest.

It has been said often enough that military justice is to justice as military music is to music, but the deeper this investigation delves into this solitary soldier’s sad circumstance, the more it cries out for some hard lessons learned, and sincere apologies delivered.
Title: Don’t shut Langride’s parents out of suicide probe’s final phase, lawyer urges
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 08, 2012, 10:44:26 PM
Don’t shut Langride’s parents out of suicide probe’s final phase, lawyer urges

Family should see and comment on interim report: Drapeau
 
By Chris Cobb, The Ottawa Citizen October 8, 2012 8:01 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/shut+Langride+parents+suicide+probe+final+phase+lawyer+urges/7359885/story.html#ixzz28le6v6SA

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/7359886.bin
Although soldier Stuart Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, are the complainants at the inquiry into their son’s suicide, neither they nor their lawyer, Michel Drapeau, pictured on the right, are legally entitled to see, or comment on, a copy of the interim report and will only get the final report the day it is released publicly.
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington , Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Top military brass and military lawyers will have almost total control over the outcome of the inquiry into the suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge unless the final phase of the process is significantly changed, says the lawyer for the late soldier’s family.

Although Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, are the complainants, neither they nor their lawyer, Michel Drapeau, are legally entitled to see, or comment on, a copy of the interim report and will only get the final report the day it is released publicly.

“The (Military Police Complaints Commission) is investigating their complaints about the loss of their cherished son,” said Drapeau. “No one has a bigger interest in the outcome of these hearings than Mr. and Mrs. Fynes. Providing them with a copy of the interim report should be a no-brainer.

“By the time the Fynes get their hands on the report it will be fait accompli and be presented to them as a ‘take it’ or ‘leave it’ adding yet more aggravation, anguish and sorrow to a family who have already endured four long years of painful and heartbreaking torment.”

According to the National Defence Act under which the commission was created, an interim report must be produced by the commission and provided exclusively to various Canadian Forces officers including the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), the Judge Advocate General’s Office, which is the Canadian military’s legal arm, and the Provost Marshal’s office, which advises the CDS on internal policing.

“The military law is both an abnormality and an aberration and it goes against the universally accepted principles of fundamental justice,” said Drapeau, who will urge Defence Minister Peter MacKay to intervene and “redress this injustice.”

Drapeau says without an open process, the military can “cherry pick,” and pressure the commission into making changes at the interim report stage and, knowing what the commission’s final recommendations are likely to be, can institute cosmetic changes to blunt the impact of those recommendations.

“You don’t cut people off at the penultimate stage, shut the door and say, ‘You can’t come in here,’” said Drapeau. “And that’s exactly what will happen.”

The commission, which is scheduled to hear its last witness on Wednesday, has no power to order changes to military police procedure and can only make recommendations.

Among other measures, Drapeau wants the DND’s civilian deputy minister to oversee the department’s response to the commission’s interim report. “Mr. and Mrs. Fynes are ordinary Canadian citizens who have brought their complaints to a civilian body,” added Drapeau. “This is an issue for civilian society not the military. Civilian eyes should be looking at this interim report. I’m not being critical of the military police but this is too big for them to be allowed to say, ‘We’ll fix it, sir, now go away.

“The Canadian military has no compunction about using its formidable public affairs contingent to co-ordinate and craft a series of messages to the media to offset or frustrate a call for action or to promote or advance a given or directed course of action to protect the ‘brand,” said Drapeau.

The Fynes have brought 30 complaints against 13 members of the National Investigation Service (NIS) — the military’s internal detective agency.

They claim the initial NIS investigation into their son’s death was a whitewash intended to protect their son’s superiors at CFB Edmonton against negligence charges and that a second NIS probe launched into the original investigation was equally biased. It emerged at the inquiry that a third full investigation promised to the Fynes never happened.

Langridge, who served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, hanged himself at CFB Edmonton in March 2008 after five previous suicide attempts and 10 days after being ordered back to the base from a psychiatric hospital, placed under restrictions, and given menial tasks such as snow clearing and trophy polishing

Langridge’s base superiors say his drug and alcohol abuse caused his emotional problems and he was not, as his family claim, suffering from war-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

The inquiry has sat for about 60 days and has heard from almost 100 witnesses.

During the past two weeks, cracks have appeared in the NIS claims of ‘fierce independence’ from the regular military as evidence that vital and embarrassing information was cut from NIS investigator reports by both their own superiors and DND brass was introduced.

The complexity of the case likely means the interim process will take at least a year and the final report is unlikely to see the light of day until the spring or even fall of 2014.

Drapeau, a former army colonel who specializes in military cases, says he will fight for the right to see and comment on the interim report to put the Fynes on an equal footing with the military.

“We should also get an opportunity to see each other’s response to the interim report,” he said. “We should share and discuss our comments.”

Despite its legally-imposed limitations, the commission plays a crucial role, says Drapeau.

“(It’s) a most difficult task not aided by the combined culture of police that exalts loyalty and silence and the military’s emphasis on protecting the brand and reducing exposure to civilian control,” he said.

“The Fynes are most thankful and appreciative that the MPCC is the only available organization that not only took the time to listen to their complaints but spared no efforts to investigate their allegations in a most impartial and fair manner.”

Drapeau says he will make his formal claim for changes to the interim report process when he and government lawyers reconvene for a day next month to present their closing arguments to commission chairman Glenn Stannard.

Stannard refused to comment on Drapeau’s proposed challenge.

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Title: Soldier's family paid $10,800 to correct death certificate
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 08, 2012, 10:46:09 PM
Soldier's family paid $10,800 to correct death certificate

Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012 9:30AM EDT

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/soldier-s-family-paid-10-800-to-correct-death-certificate-1.951196#ixzz28lebI8Sg

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OTTAWA -- The family of a Canadian soldier who committed suicide spent just over $10,800 in court costs to correct mistakes made in the young soldier's death certificate and registration, errors for which they blamed National Defence.

But their lawyer, retired colonel Michel Drapeau, says a potential legal claim was dropped because Cpl. Stuart Langridge's parents feared it would create the perception they were out to profit from the 28-year-old's death.

Shaun and Sheila Fynes were also worried a lawsuit would impede an inquiry currently taking place before the Military Police Complaints Commission, he added.

"We had to drop it in order to strip the department of any claim to litigation privilege," Drapeau said.

Among other things, the death certificate listed the wrong next-of-kin and other "egregious errors," which the Fynes petitioned to have changed.

The parents were not asking for compensation for their son's death, but in warning of court action they were instead trying to recover the cost associated with correcting the legal, public record as it related to Langridge, who killed himself at his Edmonton barracks in March 2008.

"They would never ask for compensation -- ever," Drapeau said.

National Defence claims it had no hand in the death registration, but the family pointed out members of their son's regiment were on hand when it was filled out along with Langridge's ex-girlfriend.

The Fynes' threat of a lawsuit and the issue of solicitor-client privilege are at the heart of Defence Minister Peter MacKay's claim that the government must withhold certain documents from the inquiry commission.

Records that have been disclosed are so blacked out, they can easily be taken out of context, and the government is in "damage control and they're pushing back and it's like pulling teeth" to get information out of them, Drapeau said.

The federal government is covering the family's cost of legal representation as well as travel and expenses to attend the inquiry, he added.

But critics say it was granted "grudgingly" at the last minute before the opening of hearings.

"They certainly didn't do it with an open heart," said New Democrat veterans critic Peter Stoffer, who called on the Harper government to reimburse the family for the death certificate fix.

"The government should, with absolutely no estimation, pay that money back outside of the legal process. This is money they shouldn't even have to be suing for because (National Defence) screwed up and that cost the Fynes family $10,000."

Liberal MP Sean Casey, also a veterans critic, said "the government seems incapable of admitting mistakes. They're hiding behind solicitor-client privilege in order to justify untenable positions."

Langridge's parents accused military police of botching the investigation into his death by not pursuing a criminal negligence or even a disciplinary probe into the actions of members of the Lord Strathcona's Horse Regiment.

They say the veteran of Bosnia and Afghanistan suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and was pushed over the edge following a month of civilian hospital care by the military's humiliating treatment of him.

The military disputes the PTSD claim and has presented medical records that state Langridge suffered from drug and alcohol addiction.

Expert testimony before the inquiry Monday looked at the question of whether military lawyers could -- or would -- cover up negligent performance of colleagues.

Lt.-Col. Bruce MacGregor, a former Crown prosecutor and senior officer at the military's Judge Advocate General branch, testified that military police and investigators seek advice from uniformed lawyers before laying charges.

Much of his testimony was in the abstract and meant to lay the foundation for the appearance later this week of the military police officers who investigated the death.

MacGregor defended the sweeping use of solicitor-client privilege when it comes to investigation reports and advice that found its way up the chain of command to chief of defence staff's office -- records the family maintains are crucial to understanding what happened.

"You have to have a free and frank ability to discuss certain things and sometimes an investigator might be going down a road that isn't the best legal path to take," he said.

"And you have to be able to sit there and you have to have an open and frank dialogue between the investigator and the prosecutor. If everything that is being said between and investigator and prosecutor is ultimately going to be disclosed, you're not going to get a freedom of thought."

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/soldier-s-family-paid-10-800-to-correct-death-certificate-1.951196#ixzz28legh8pW



Title: Independence not always easy for military police, Langridge inquiry told
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 09, 2012, 11:05:35 PM
Independence not always easy for military police, Langridge inquiry told

By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen October 9, 2012 8:02 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Independence+always+easy+military+police+Langridge+inquiry+told/7365315/story.html#ixzz28rZvK4JR

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/7365316.bin

OTTAWA — Maintaining professional independence is more difficult for military police officers than for their civilian counterparts, a leading specialist in policing told a federal inquiry Tuesday.

Military police officers are often conflicted, University of Toronto law professor Kent Roach told the Military Police Complaints Commission.

“They are police officers,” he said. “On the other hand they are part of the military and have been subject to chain of command concepts like other members of the military.”

Police independence is a “delicate balance” he added, and a lack of it could give senior officers power to direct their internal police forces to “investigate my enemies but not my friends.

“The rule of law would be offended if anyone told a police officer that they must not, or that they must, investigate or lay charges against a particular person,” he said. “Such directions are the stuff of police states.

“(But) absolute or complete independence would run the risk of creating another type of police state — one in which the police would not be answerable to anyone.”

Roach has worked as an adviser to several high-profile public inquiries including the 1993 Somalia Inquiry, which was partly why the Canadian Forces’ National Investigation Service (NIS), the major crime unit of the military, was created.

The service was set up as a supposedly independent entity not subject to influence of anyone outside the military’s police structure. (During the Somalia investigation it was revealed that military brass refused to allow military police to investigate allegations of serious wrongdoing against soldiers.)

The commission is in the last week of an inquiry into the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Stuart Langridge, who hanged himself at CFB Edmonton in March 2008.

Langridge’s parents claim that the military was negligent in the 28-year-old’s treatment and care and that NIS investigations into his death were a whitewash designed to protect the reputation and careers of his unit and superiors.

Much of the evidence in the latter part of the inquiry has focused on NIS independence and its susceptibility to influence from high echelons of the Canadian military.

“Do you need to be a member of the Canadian Forces to be a military police officer?” Langridge family lawyer Michel Drapeau asked Roach. “Is there anything that would prevent the RCMP from performing the military policing function?”

No, said Roach, who described military police independence as “relatively novel and somewhat fragile.

“Obviously,” he said, “the RCMP would have to be acquainted with the military, but they have to be acquainted with corporations when they investigate corporate crime.”

A senior NIS officer denied last week that a letter to the editor written by Chief of the Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk in the midst of the NIS investigation had any influence on his investigators.

In the letter, Natynczyk appeared to pronounce on the outcome of the Langridge investigation before it was complete.

Because of their dual role as members of the military and police officers within the military, such a statement from the nation’s top soldier could be taken as direction by lower police ranks and their supervisors, said Roach.

There needs to be a balance between the legitimate managerial rights of the Canadian Forces and the “demands of police independence,” he added.

Any public pronouncement from above that sounds like a direction “goes over the line,” he said

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Independence+always+easy+military+police+Langridge+inquiry+told/7365315/story.html#ixzz28ra2pYIH
Title: Military should have told soldier's family about suicide note: ex-chief
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 10, 2012, 01:05:42 PM
Military should have told soldier's family about suicide note: ex-chief

Former NIS leader levels direct criticism of investigation service during testimony
 
By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen October 3, 2012

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Military+should+have+told+soldier+family+about+suicide+note+chief/7335126/story.html#ixzz28uzFnyfQ

The former national chief of the Canadian Forces' detective agency told a federal inquiry Tuesday that investigators probing the 2008 suicide of Afghanistan veteran Stuart Langridge didn't tell him that the troubled soldier had left a suicide note.

And in the most direct criticism yet levelled against the National Investigation Ser-vice investigators by a superior officer, retired Lt.-Col. William Garrick told the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry that it was wrong to keep contents of the note from Langridge's mother and stepfather to whom it was ad-dressed.

In the simple handwritten note, Langridge asked for a private, family funeral.

Unaware of their son's last request, the family agreed to a military funeral. It was 14 months before the NIS revealed that the note existed.

Langridge's mother, Sheila Fynes, has testified that the family was "devastated" when they were eventually handed the note.

Investigators have testified that the suicide note was kept as evidence and then forgotten, but they also admitted that when Langridge's former common-law wife asked whether he had left a note, they did not tell her.

Garrick told commission lawyer Mark Freiman that even if the note was held for evidence, the NIS should not have kept its contents hidden.

"Is it personal property?" asked Freiman.

"My gut feeling - my opinion - is that it would be," said the former NIS chief.

"Should it have been re-turned?"

"I would make that assumption. Yes," he said. "At minimum, the unit and the family should be (immediately) aware of that."

The inquiry, which ends next week, is being held to investigate complaints by the Fynes that - among other things - the NIS investigation was biased in favour of the military and that the police force is not independent from the military.

According to documents and testimony, the chief investigator's case summary and conclusions were both doctored - edited, say his NIS superiors - to remove potentially embarrassing and incriminating information.

The investigator's one-paragraph conclusion was re-worded to emphasize that the military had done all it could to help Langridge and that the soldier's mental health issues were caused by his alcohol and drug abuse and not the opposite, as his parents claim.

During questioning by the Fynes' lawyer, Michel Drapeau, Garrick rejected the suggestion that the NIS is not independent.

"You are paid, promoted and pensioned by the Canadian Forces," said Drapeau. "You are subject to orders, regulations, customs and traditions of the Canadian Forces, so I would look at it as you being an internal police force.

"Your warrant officer or sergeants go to interview some-one of the rank of a regiment-al sergeant major - a semi-God - and they can't help but be very respectful to the position because of the indoctrination of the Canadian Forces," he added.

Garrick, now a consultant, countered: "If they are cowed or subdued by rank, they aren't NIS material."

"In my time, even as a corporal, I was arresting captains, majors and chief war-rant officers."

The inquiry continues.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

Twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Military+should+have+told+soldier+family+about+suicide+note+chief/7335126/story.html#ixzz28uzNoepI
Title: After 62 days and 92 witnesses, Langridge inquiry comes to a close
Post by: Canadian_Vet on October 10, 2012, 10:01:09 PM
After 62 days and 92 witnesses, Langridge inquiry comes to a close

Probe into soldier’s suicide longest in complaints commission’s history
 
By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen October 10, 2012 8:01 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/After+days+witnesses+Langridge+inquiry+comes+close/7371054/story.html#ixzz28xA7GUTK

OTTAWA — The marathon and often controversial inquiry into the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Stuart Langridge ended Wednesday after sitting for 62 days and hearing 92 witnesses.

It was only the third public hearing in the 13-year history of the Military Police Complaints Commission but by far the longest.

The first, into sexual assault allegations against two military police officers, lasted five days, and the second, into the treatment of Afghan detainees, less than 30 days.

Cpl. Langridge hanged himself in March 2008 at CFB Edmonton after being ordered back to the base at the end of 30 days of psychiatric care.

Langridge told one doctor that he would rather kill himself than return to base and asked to continue his treatment. He killed himself 10 days after his request was refused.

The military says it did all it could for the troubled soldier and maintains his problems were rooted in his alcohol and drug abuse.

Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, say he was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following his war deployment.

The commission hearing was launched to investigate allegations by the Fynes’ that the military’s National Investigation Service (NIS) was biased and flawed.

The Langridge inquiry, controversial to the end, now moves into the report-writing phase with an unresolved complaint by the Fynes’ lawyer, Michel Drapeau, over the distribution of the interim report. According to the law governing the commission, that report will be kept from the family.

Drapeau told the Citizen he intends to formally ask Defence Minister Peter MacKay to allow the Fynes’ to see and comment on the interim report.

During Wednesday’s testimony, commission lawyer Mark Freiman asked the former head of the NIS whether a defensive ‘media blitz’ led by Chief of the Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk could have been construed as interference in the NIS investigation.

In a 2010 letter to the editor, Natynczyk appeared to pronounce on the outcome of the NIS probes before they were finished and in apparent disregard for the police unit’s independence.

“I don’t know where he got that information,” said Gilles Sansterre. “He certainly didn’t get it from the NIS. We were continuing on with that investigation and if we had found otherwise we would have reported on that.”

“Did it cause you or anyone else at NIS concern?” asked Freiman.

“I don’t recall it causing me any concern,” said Sansterre. “It’s preferable he doesn’t comment on them but we would still continue our independent investigation and come up with our findings.

“Gen. Natynczyk would never suggest how we do our investigations and if we came up with a different finding we would report on that different finding.”

The issue of NIS independence from the regular military was a major theme in the latter stages of the inquiry with allegations that the regular Canadian Forces influenced an NIS news release.

Sansterre told federal Justice Department lawyer Elizabeth Richards that NIS keeps details of its investigations to itself until they are finished, adding that the Canadian Forces never edited or influenced any of its reports during its investigations of the Langridge suicide.

Commission chairman Glenn Stannard asked Sansterre why his recall of details of the Langridge case was poor.

“I don’t know,” said Stannard, “how many times I heard today ‘don’t know the details, I can’t recall, don’t really know.’”

Sansterre said he was dealing with more than 150 ongoing investigations.

“I don’t have details of each and every one of those investigations,” he said. “I leave that to officers commanding.”

“In three years (you were NIS head) how many suicides in military bases would NIS have investigated?” Stannard asked.

“I would say between 10 and 20 or 25,” he said.

But, he conceded, the Langridge case was unique in its implications and profile.

“Would that not put it right at the top for you as the NIS commander?” asked Stannard. “Wouldn’t you know more about that case than any other?”

“Not necessarily,” Sansterre replied.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com">ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/After+days+witnesses+Langridge+inquiry+comes+close/7371054/story.html#ixzz28xACQFoF
Title: Letter from MND to CVA concerning the Fynes - MPCC
Post by: Sylvain Chartrand CD on October 15, 2012, 01:13:54 PM
Bear in mind, there is no need for Client -Solicitor privilege as the Fynes have formally waived their right to sue in order that justice may be served. There is no, as I understand it, legal reason to support this restrictive mandate. I would also note that the response came AFTER the hearings last witness had spoken. How can justice be served when the commissioner, who is to decide, is being deliberately denied access to the information he needs? 

Lest we forget.

 

Dear Mr. Blais:

Thank you for your email of August 31, 2012, concerning the Military
Police Complaints Commission (MPCC) Fynes Public Interest Hearing.

You refer to my letter of June 21, 2012, to the MPCC Chairperson, which
responds to his request that I waive solicitor-client privilege in
respect of legal advice provided by departmental legal advisors in
matters relating to the unfortunate death of Corporal Stuart Langridge.
In my letter to the Chairperson, I explain why I must decline his
unusual and exceptional request for a waiver. I have attached a copy of
this letter for your information.

You suggest that a failure to waive solicitor-client privilege in the
Fynes Public Interest Hearing may impede justice. As I indicate in my
letter to the Chairperson, the protection of solicitor-client privilege
is of fundamental importance to the administration of justice in Canada.

I am truly concerned about our veterans, and I am deeply sympathetic to
Mr. and Mrs. Fynes's loss. Nevertheless, as a Minister of the Crown, I
must remain guided by principle. The protection of solicitor-client
privilege is of fundamental importance to the administration of justice.
As I indicate in my letter to the Chairperson, it is the intent of
Parliament that the MPCC can and should accomplish its mandate without
access to privileged communications between lawyers and clients.

I trust that this is of assistance, and thank you again for writing.


Sincerely,


Peter MacKay
Minister of National Defence
Title: MacKay denies parents access to report on suicide
Post by: Sylvain Chartrand CD on October 15, 2012, 01:18:57 PM
MacKay denies parents access to report on suicide

Read more: http://www.leaderpost.com/MacKay+denies+parents+access+report+suicide/7389865/story.html#ixzz29OHaQieM

Postmedia News October 15, 2012

Defence Minister Peter MacKay says that he will not clear the way for the parents of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Lan-gridge to be involved in the final phase of the inquiry into their son's suicide.

MacKay's refusal brought an angry response Sunday from Langridge family lawyer Michel Drapeau, who accused the minister of ignoring the military family's right to justice.

The public segment of the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into Langridge's 2008 suicide at CFB Edmonton ended last week after sitting for 62 days and hearing from 92 witnesses.

The next step is the production of an interim report, followed by a final report that is unlikely to be published before the spring of 2014.

Crucially, under the National Defence Act only various arms of the military are allowed to see, or comment privately, on the interim report - essentially locking Langridge's parents, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, out of that final phase. Nor does the law put any time limit on the military during this period.

Only MacKay could have allowed the Fynes and their lawyer access to the interim report and given them a role in secret discussions it will provoke between the MPCC and military.

The minister's refusal to intervene means the Fynes will only get to see the final report and its recommendations the day it's publicly released.

Drapeau told the Ottawa Citizen that he intends to formally ask the minister to lift the restriction and allow the Fynes into the process as MPCC works towards its final report.

But a spokesman for MacKay told the Citizen at the weekend that the minister would not intervene.

"The Government has been committed to co-operating with the MPCC to the fullest extent possible including funding provided to the Fynes family for legal representation," said the spokesman, "and the Minister won't interfere with an ongoing process".

The complaints commission's public hearings were launched last March to examine the Fynes' allegations that the military's National Investigation Service (NIS) probes into their son's death was biased and flawed and intended to protect the military.

Drapeau says he fears that the military brass will use its "unique and substantial advantage" of sole access and use the interim findings to influence the final report and implement cosmetic measures in advance of recommendations that they will know are coming.

Retired army colonel Drapeau said Sunday that MacKay was rejecting a "simple plea for fairness and equity.

"I would have expected better, much better, from the Honourable Peter MacKay, a Minister of the Crown who, after all, is, first and foremost, an elected official accountable to the public - which includes the mothers and fathers of our brave soldiers - not the military brass," Drapeau said.
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

Read more: http://www.leaderpost.com/MacKay+denies+parents+access+report+suicide/7389865/story.html#ixzz29OHlMG4E
Title: Soldier's 2008 suicide should be a springboard for change, lawyer argues
Post by: Sylvain Chartrand CD on January 09, 2013, 04:20:25 PM
Soldier's 2008 suicide should be a springboard for change, lawyer argues

By: Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press

Posted: 3:31 AM | Comments: 0 | Last Modified: 1:46 PM

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/closing-arguments-to-be-heard-in-inquiry-into-suicide-of-canadian-corporal-186128952.html

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OTTAWA - The pain and suffering endured by the family of an Edmonton soldier who killed himself should be used as a springboard for systemic changes to the treatment of veterans and their loved ones, the family's lawyer said Wednesday.

The investigations into the 2008 suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge were handled in an inept and inexperienced manner, retired colonel Michel Drapeau told the Military Police Complaints Commission hearing.

"It has created an extra layer of pain and turmoil that was preventable and correctable, had a modicum of transparency, accountability and basic compassion been displayed from senior military leaders," Drapeau said.

After eight months of work and 92 witnesses, the hearing ended Wednesday, with Drapeau and lawyers for the government pressing their case for a final time.

The public interest hearing was convened following complaints from Langridge's family that the investigation into their son's death was biased and designed to absolve the military.

Langridge, a veteran of Afghanistan and Bosnia, hanged himself in March 2008 after being ordered back to base following treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in a civilian hospital.

His family contends the military treated him as a malcontent, and that helped drive him over the edge.

Langridge's reasons for taking his own life aren't for the hearing to decide, said Drapeau. What matters, he argued, is how the investigation was carried out.

"Each of the three (National Investigation Service) investigations were conducted in an unsubstantiated manner," Drapeau said.

"Taken together, these investigations aptly demonstrate the NIS lacks experience, expertise, structure and independence to conduct these types of investigations."

Lawyers for the federal government asserted otherwise, noting the 13 military police officers who are the subject of the complaint by Langridge's family have between five and 23 years of experience each.

"This commission cannot ignore the practical and legal limits that police officers operate under when they exercise their powers," said lawyer Korinda McLaine.

McLaine said the government believes the commission's focus should be narrow in scope: whether the steps taken and conclusions reached by the 13 MPs fell within the range of reasonable outcomes, given the policies available to them at the time.

"You must not hold the subjects to a standard of perfection or ask if, given what we now know, the same decisions would have been made," she said.

The inquiry heard how military police concealed Langridge's suicide note from his parents for 14 months, claiming the sheet of paper was evidence in a suspicious-death probe. The investigators stuck to the line even though the coroner at the scene described it as a clear-cut case of suicide.

Had the note been released immediately, several subsequent complications — including difficulties figuring out who was Langridge's next of kin and what kind of funeral he wanted — could have been avoided, the hearing was told.

But the NIS has acknowledged it mishandled the note and has improved its procedures since, McLaine said.

"Although it may be tempting to look back on the investigations with the perfect lens of hindsight, that would not be fair to the subjects in this complaint," she said.

There were also conflicting claims about whether the troubled soldier was on a suicide watch prior to his death. If so, the military would have been liable for his death.

The inquiry also heard how the final military police report into the death was heavily rewritten and censored.

Sgt. Matthew Ritco, the lead investigator, testified that direction came down from "higher'' to create two case summary files, one written by him and another rewritten version to be delivered to the chain of command, including Langridge's commanding officer.

The final draft removed all but one reference to the victim having been on suicide watch before his death.

All of this was to protect the military, not respect Langridge or his family, Drapeau said.

"The army, and its commanders, are considered and treated as a brand that needs protecting," he said.

"This means that, if there is wrongdoing by the chain of command, and it becomes public knowledge, there is an entire team of CF public affairs officers committed to ensuring that the outcomes are projected in a way that best protects the brand. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened here."

Commission chair Glenn Stannard was urged to not examine the case through a political lens, despite the attention the case has drawn since 2008.

"You must not be swayed by the political debate and rhetoric, you must not be influenced by the publicity surrounding this issue and you must be cautious and rigorous in your examination of the veracity of the allegations," McLaine said.

A report from the commission will take months to complete; an interim version is first submitted to political and military leadership before a final version is released publicly.

Langridge's parents said the close of the hearing was a milestone moment.

"We put Stuart's most personal parts of his life on display — and this family, too," said his mother, Sheila Fynes.

"And I hope it wasn't for nothing. Some positive change has to happen here. We'll see."
Title: CF Officiers Don’t Want To Admit There Are Problems With System Treating Mentall
Post by: Sylvain Chartrand CD on January 13, 2013, 08:21:03 AM
Canadian Military Officers Don’t Want To Admit There Are Problems With System Treating Mentally Injured Soldiers, Says Soldier’s Mother

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2013/01/12/canadian-military-officers-dont-want-to-admit-there-are-problems-with-system-treating-mentally-injured-soldiers-says-soldiers-mother/

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My Ottawa Citizen colleague Chris Cobb has filed this article:

OTTAWA — The marathon federal inquiry into the suicide of 28-year-old Afghanistan War veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge came to an emotional end Wednesday with the late soldier’s tearful mother vowing to continue her fight for mentally injured veterans.

“It’s been a long road,” said Langridge’s mother, Sheila Fynes, after the 63-day hearing ended with final submissions from government and family lawyers. “We’re glad this part’s over.”

Fynes and her husband, Shaun, brought 32 allegations to the Military Police Complaints Commission against 13 members of the military’s detective agency, the National Investigation Service (NIS).

They claim that three separate investigations into Stuart’s death were botched and were more concerned with protecting the military than with seeking the truth behind his death.

The Victoria couple has not asked for compensation from the government. They say they forced the public inquiry in an effort to ensure better treatment for mentally injured solders — treatment Sheila Fynes said has yet to improve.

“I think they (the military) talk a pretty good talk, but … we’ve yet to see any evidence that things have changed,” she said. “We truly brought all this up because we hope it will be a catalyst for change. What we see now from military officers is no real admission that there is anything wrong with the system.”

Federal Justice Department lawyers representing the 13 military detectives insist the policemen did their best with the information they had at the time of their investigations and “acted at all times in a professional and reasonable manner.

To read more go here:

Original source article: Langridge inquiry concludes; report likely to take more than a year http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Langridge+inquiry+concludes+report+likely+take+more+than+year/7797321/story.html
Title: Canadian military abandoning soldiers at home
Post by: Sylvain Chartrand CD on March 01, 2013, 08:11:57 PM
Canadian military abandoning soldiers at home

Garret Dwyer-Joyce, W5 Staff
Published Friday, Mar. 1, 2013 5:00PM EST

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/canadian-military-abandoning-soldiers-at-home-1.1177907#ixzz2MLALARUh

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Despite trying to maintain journalistic objectivity, any story about death in a family can tear a piece out of a reporter’s heart.

Take the case of Shaun and Sheila Fynes and their son, Cpl. Stuart Langridge. His story is a spiral from a decorated, successful soldier to depression, despair, drug and alcohol abuse and, finally, his tragic, lonely suicide by hanging in March 2008 at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton. He was 28.

“It’s beyond comprehension to me that my son should be so unhappy,” said his mother, Sheila.

It's beyond comprehension because Stuart was a soldier who loved what he did.

He joined the Cadets at the age of 12, moved to the Reserves and finally to the regular army when he was 19, serving as a tank gunner in Lord Strathcona’s Horse, an armoured regiment based in Edmonton.

One performance evaluation by his Army superiors said that Stuart “Possesses above average potential for promotion.”

But something changed when Stuart went to Afghanistan in 2004. Something terrible happened there, something that Stuart wouldn’t talk about. By the time he came back to Canada he was different man.

“We started to hear that he wasn’t sleeping well,” said his mother. “He was having nightmares and night terrors and we were aware that he was starting to drink more than he had in the past.”

No official diagnosis

Tests showed Stuart had the symptoms of PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. But the diagnosis was never made official.

“No one wanted to look past the symptoms,” said Sheila. “And because he didn’t disclose a specific incident, therefore it couldn’t happen. But Stuart said, ‘I can’t talk about my stuff because if I do it’s a career ender.’”

But by 2007, Stuart’s career had already stalled and that sent him spinning deeper into depression. He was in and out of hospital, drinking, taking drugs and he tried to take his own life five times.

“As a mom, I was just so worried,” said Sheila . “He said I need help. And I said, 'You need to go to the army.' I know that they will get you into a rehab somewhere. They look after their men.”

But now Sheila believes the military failed her son.

At 3:30 on the afternoon of March 15th, 2008, Stuart was found dead – hanging in his room at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton.

The Fynes got a phone message from the base commander. When Shaun called back he learned his stepson was dead.

“And Sheila shrieked, I told them this would happen,” said Shaun. “Sheila had been told three or four days before that he was safe, that he was being watched 24/7.”

The army calls that close monitoring “a Suicide Watch,” but Sheila believes their son wasn’t watched closely enough.

“Our son should not be dead,” said Sheila.

It was sad enough to lose their son, but learning about the way Stuart’s body was treated after his death only added to their grief.

More grief for stricken family

“It was almost quarter after seven at night when they cut him down,” said Sheila. “They found him at 3:30. Four hours they left him. They left him as they found him.”

As more details of the Military Police investigation into Stuart’s suicide came to light, the Fynes’ grief turned to anger. A suicide note he had written before his death was kept secret for 14 months.

“That’s the one thing that they really haven’t been able to explain away,” said Sheila. “They say that it’s regretful, that they changed their policy. Somebody else said they forgot.”

At the end of the note, Stuart wrote, “I don’t deserve any kind of fancy funeral, just family.” But that didn’t happen.

“We didn’t acknowledge and recognize his wishes because we were unaware of them,” said Shaun. “Stuart had a military funeral at CFB Edmonton.”

Apart from the funeral, there were mix-ups over Stuart’s pension and will, leaving the Fynes with so many unanswered questions. And three Military Police inquiries – inquiries where the military investigated itself – didn’t satisfy the Fynes.

Finally, in 2012, the Military Police Complaints Commission, an independent body run by civilians, agreed to hear their case. Shaun and Sheila sat through eight months of testimony and listened to 92 witnesses. It was as painful experience as, once again, Stuart’s last hours were exposed and his death examined in every detail.

The Military Police took the position that everything had been done properly except for a few human errors. But some of the facts that emerged were truly shocking.

The original report that was written soon after Stuart’s death referred several times to “a list of personnel available to assist in a suicide watch on Corporal Langridge.”

But there was a second version, written three days later, and all references to that list had been removed.

“When I read the second report, it’s been polished,” said Michel Drapeau, a former colonel in the Canadian Army who is now a lawyer and represents the Fynes. “It’s been reduced. It’s been made to present a picture that is incomplete, that is beneficial to the organization that is the chain of command, and certainly damaging to Stuart Langridge.”

W5 requested an interview with the Military Police, but they turned us down and issued a statement which ended with the words, “We are confident that the MPCC final report will provide a balanced and fair assessment of our investigations into the death of Corporal Stuart Langridge.” Read the full statement here. [Link to PDF]

The Military Police Complaints Commission report probably won’t be published until 2014, but it has no teeth, no power to hold any individual responsible. All it can do is to provide findings and recommendations.

Drapeau hopes that one of those recommendations will be to hand over cases of suicide in the military to the Coroner’s Office, as happens in the United Kingdom. This would mean investigations would be taken away from the military to be handled by police or civilians.

Watch CTV W5's 'Dying for Help' Saturday @ 7 p.m.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/canadian-military-abandoning-soldiers-at-home-1.1177907#ixzz2MLAZe8N5

Title: How Serious is the Canadian Forces About Understanding Suicide Among the Ranks?
Post by: Sylvain Chartrand CD on May 14, 2013, 09:58:53 AM
How Serious is the Canadian Forces About Understanding Suicide Among the Ranks?

May 14, 2013. 1:15 am • Section: Defence Watch

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2013/05/14/how-serious-is-the-canadian-forces-about-understanding-suicide-among-the-ranks/

By David Pugliese

Defence Watch

How serious is the Canadian Forces about understanding suicide among the ranks?

Last week I had an article in the Citizen pointing out that the Canadian Forces still has not completed inquiries into 50 suicides among military members, some from as far back as five years ago.

The military has boards of inquiries under way into the 50 deaths, including four from 2008 and seven from 2009.

Seven boards are still underway for suicides in 2010 and 20 for 2011. The 2011 inquiries include the suicide of corporals in Ottawa and Petawawa.

A board of inquiry (BOI) into the suicide of another corporal at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa in December is one of 12 now under way for 2012.

The information was recently tabled in the House of Commons after a request by a Liberal MP. The figures indicate that the military has completed 19 BOIs into suicides since 2008.

The Canadian Forces and DND say they are focused on doing a top notch job on such BOIs.

In an email to the Citizen, the Defence Department noted that BOIs do not have fixed end dates. “The issues under investigation are both important and complex, and it is important that the Canadian Armed Forces take the time necessary to get them right,” the email noted.

A BOI is an internal, non-judicial, administrative fact-finding investigation. They are intended to allow the Chief of the Defence Staff and other members of the chain of command to obtain a better understanding of incidents affecting the functioning of the Canadian Forces, the department added.

Others question why the BOIs are taking so much time. “Why a BOI can’t complete its work in a timely fashion escapes me,” said Liberal defence critic John McKay.

Some families of those who committed suicide also point out that such boards are made up of individuals who still have to do their regular duties. They sometimes get posted out. Other times they have to go on course. So some BOIs simply drag on, giving the impression that the CF doesn’t care, family members add. A number have also noted that the BOIs don’t seem keen to probe too deeply into the issues at play.
Title: Military Police Complaints Commission Issues Interim Report into the Fynes Compl
Post by: Canadian_Vet on May 01, 2014, 11:57:15 AM
Military Police Complaints Commission Issues Interim Report into the Fynes Complaint

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1889351#ixzz30U5mvqGf

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 1, 2014) - The Military Police Complaints Commission (the Commission) issued today its Interim Report dated April 30, 2014, into a complaint related to the Military Police investigations conducted following the death of Corporal (Cpl) Stuart Langridge.

Cpl Langridge committed suicide at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton on March 15, 2008. He had served in Bosnia and Afghanistan. His parents, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, filed a formal complaint with the Commission relating to three investigations conducted by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) following the death of their son.

The Commission held a Public Interest Hearing (PIH) into the Fynes complaint. The Commission began hearing evidence on March 27, 2012. Commission Chairperson Glenn Stannard presided over the PIH, which sat for 62 hearing days and heard evidence from 90 witnesses.

"This has been a lengthy and complex case with multiple allegations related to three separate investigations by the CFNIS" said Mr. Stannard.

The Interim Report sets out the Commission's findings and recommendations with respect to the complaint. As required by the National Defence Act, the Commission issued its Interim Report to the Minister of National Defence, the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Judge Advocate General and the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (CFPM).

The CFPM, as the chief of the Military Police, will review the Interim Report and must provide a Notice of Action to the Chairperson of the Commission and to the Minister of National Defence of any action that has been taken or will be taken with respect to the Commission's findings and recommendations. The CFPM must provide reasons for not acting on any of the findings and recommendations in the Interim Report.

After receiving the Notice of Action, the Commission will publish a Final Report. The Commission will provide its Final Report to the complainants and the members of the Military Police who were subjects of the complaint. The Report will also be released to the public and posted on the Commission's website.

The Military Police Complaints Commission was established in 1999 by the Government of Canada to provide independent civilian oversight of the Canadian Forces Military Police. By reviewing and investigating complaints concerning Military Police conduct and by investigating allegations of interference in investigations, it promotes and ensures the highest standards of Military Police conduct and provides for greater public accountability by the Military Police and the Chain of Command.
Michael Tansey, Communications Advisor,
Military Police Complaints Commission
Cell: (613) 851-4587
(613) 487-3765
michael@tancom.ca
www.mpcc-cppm.gc.ca

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1889351#ixzz30U5rZJrx
Title: Only DND Allowed To See Report About Suicide of Afghan Veteran – Parents Cut Out
Post by: Canadian_Vet on May 01, 2014, 06:55:10 PM
Only Department of National Defence Allowed To See Report About Suicide of Afghan Veteran – Soldiers’ Parents Cut Out of the Loop

May 1, 2014. 7:26 pm • Section: Defence Watch

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2014/05/01/only-department-of-national-defence-allowed-to-see-report-about-suicide-of-afghan-veteran-soldiers-parents-cut-out-of-the-loop/

Chris Cobb of the Ottawa Citizen has this:

OTTAWA — The Military Police Complaints Commission issued its interim report Thursday into the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge, but only the Department of National Defence is allowed to see it.

Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, are the complainants, but neither they nor their lawyer Michel Drapeau are legally entitled to see a copy of the interim document. They will get a copy of the final report, but only on the day it is released publicly.

The late soldier’s family is being “left out in the cold,” Drapeau said Thursday.

“It is the law, but it’s a bad law,” he said. “It’s offensive that they aren’t allowed to see a report about their son.”

The Fyneses brought 30 complaints against 13 members of the National Investigation Service (NIS), which is the military’s internal detective agency.

They said the initial NIS investigation into their son’s death was a whitewash intended to protect their son’s superiors at CFB Edmonton and that a second NIS probe into the original investigation was also biased.

There was widespread outrage when it was revealed that the military police had found Langridge’s simple, handwritten suicide note at the scene of his death but kept it hidden from his family for 14 months.

Langridge, 28, suffered from depression and before he hanged himself at the Edmonton base in March 2008, his parents claim, he was dismissed by superiors, and ultimately the NIS, as a drunk and drug user.

But the Fyneses say he was at the leading edge of what is now widely recognized as a post-traumatic stress disorder epidemic among Afghanistan veterans.

Commission hearings began on March 27, 2012, and heard from a record 90 witnesses over 62 days.

The interim report, which contains the commission’s findings and recommendations, has been sent to Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, Chief of the Defence Staff Tom Lawson, the judge advocate general and the Canadian Forces provost marshal (CFPM).

Drapeau, a retired colonel, complained at the end of the hearings that the secrecy surrounding the interim report allowed DND brass to “cherry pick” and institute cosmetic changes while simultaneously denying the family any input.

“The (commission) is investigating their complaints about the loss of their cherished son,” Drapeau said. “No one has a bigger interest in the outcome of these hearings than Mr. and Mrs. Fynes. Providing them with a copy of the interim report should be a no-brainer.

“You don’t cut people off at the penultimate stage, shut the door and say, ‘You can’t come in here,” said Drapeau. “And that’s exactly what will happen.”

The complaints commission has no power to order changes and can only make recommendations.

Officially, the military police and its lawyers must review the recommendations and report on whether changes have been made, and if not, explain why not.

Drapeau, who had tried and failed to get a copy of the interim report for the Fyneses, said the DND’s civilian deputy minister should be overseeing the department’s response to the commission’s interim report and that it shouldn’t take more than a month for them to produce that response. (The complaints commission imposes no deadline on DND).

“Mr. and Mrs. Fynes are ordinary Canadian citizens who have brought their complaints to a civilian body.” he added. “This is an issue for civilian society, not the military, so civilian eyes should be looking at this interim report. I’m not being critical of the military police, but this is too big for them to be allowed to say, ‘We’ll fix it, sir. Now go away.’”

Sheila Fynes said Thursday that she remains dismayed that veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental injury are continuing to commit suicide.
“The response today seems to have changed little from the response six years ago,” she said. “Stuart was at the leading edge of it and was painted to be a terrible person. It still enrages me.”