Ashley Bryant’s suicide at centre of inquest into police officers’ trauma

Wednesday, 13. February 2019

Det Sgt Ashley Bryant investigating officer of Masoud Faroughi 33 yrs who was shot dead when he opened his front door in his kellyville home in Febuary 25 ,2006. Copy pic supplied smh,news,191207 Photo: Brendan Esposito
Nanjing Night Net

On December 15, 2013, former police officer Ashley Bryant sent Christmas cards, two weeks early, to his children.

Twenty-four-hours later, he drove to a picturesque national park on the NSW North Coast with beer and a bottle of scotch whisky.

He made a chilling phone call to triple zero, telling the operator he had post-traumatic stress disorder and wanted the effects of his debilitating mental illness to be investigated.

A few minutes later he died by suicide.

“I understand this is being recorded and I suffer from PTSD,” he told the operator in a call played in the NSW Coroner’s Court on Wednesday.

“I now live with the trauma of it and I know this will go to the coroner. There needs to be more things put in place for partners of those that suffer … “

Mr Bryant, through a wavering voice, provided his date of birth, registered police number and spelling of his last name.

The operator asked him if he could wait for police to get to him.

“No, I’ll be gone before they arrive, thank you,” Mr Bryant replied before the line went dead.

His death is at the centre of an inquest examining whether Mr Bryant received adequate support from the NSW Police Force for his psychological issues, which stemmed from traumatic incidents on the job.

The inquest will also examine whether the force needs to change the way it assesses the risk of officers developing mental health issues and how it supports former and serving officers with mental health diagnosis.

By the time Mr Bryant, a “hardworking” detective sergeant with 24 years in the police, was medically discharged in 2012, he had been diagnosed with PTSD, depression and alcohol abuse.

He worked in stations across the state, including Bourke and Ballina as well as in the Homicide Squad.

Counsel assisting the coroner, Ian Bourke, told the court Mr Bryant had responded to drownings, suicides, murders and other traumatic jobs over the course of his career.

He said there was evidence Mr Bryant’s problems dated back to at least 1995, when his wife, Deborah Bryant, noticed he was abusing alcohol.

In 1999, after he was referred to the police’s healthy lifestyle unit for assessment, he told a support office he had blackouts virtually every time he drank and had been drunk at work.

Over the years, he was advised by an array of medical professionals to stop drinking. Sometimes he did but often slipped back into abusing alcohol.

In 2009, the family moved from Bourke to Ballina and Mrs Bryant was becoming seriously concerned at Mr Bryant’s behaviour.

“He told her on more than one occasion that he didn’t think he could work in the police for much longer,” Mr Bourke said.

Two years later he was drinking heavily again and engaging in risky behaviour at work in the hope he would get hurt, he added.

He also thought about walking into the surf and shooting himself but didn’t want to subject his family to the stigma associated with suicide, Mr Bourke said.

By the end of 2012, after a three-week stint in hospital where he was treated for his PTSD and alcohol dependency, he was discharged, medically unfit, from the police force.

Mr Bryant then awaited a decision on whether he would get an early superannuation payout, which depended on whether he was assessed as having a full-time disability.

However in 2013, a psychologist – on behalf of the superannuation fund – assessed Mr Bryant as someone who could also return to work in a job less stressful than police work.

In turn, he would get partial, not full, remuneration.

By the end of 2013, Mr Bryant was drinking heavily and his wife agreed he should move away from the family home.

“Distraught and ashamed”, Mr Bryant told a psychiatrist he had been verbally abusive towards his wife and feared he could hurt his family.

Studying part-time for a law degree at Southern Cross University, Mr Bryant moved into student accommodation in Lismore on December 13, 2013.

He returned to Coffs Harbour three days later and his wife told him during a psychologist’s appointment that he could return home if he stopped drinking.

Mr Bourke said Mr Bryant walked out after stating, “I can’t do this any more.”

“After leaving the room, Ashley must have driven directly to Minyon Falls, getting beer and a bottle of whisky on the way,” he said.

The inquest continues.

??? Support is available for those who may be distressed by phoning Lifeline 13 11 14; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Comments are closed.