Soldier death to remain a mystery
Sydney Morning Herald
May 16, 2011
The mysterious death of a young soldier was likely to remain a mystery until the Church of Scientology chooses to release its file on its extended dealings with him, a defence commission of inquiry has found.
There's no dispute that Private Edward McBride, 30, took his own life in Brisbane on February 7, 2007.
something obviously brought about Pte McBride's sudden and severe change.
A trained electrical fitter before joining the army, he climbed into an electrical sub-station and deliberately contacted a 110,000 volt power line.
Just why he took that course has been the subject of a coronial inquest and the defence inquiry, with neither able to reach any firm conclusion.
In the defence inquiry report, Commissioner James Gordon said Pte McBride was a mature and determined individual with no history of psychiatric illness or psychological issues.
"Exactly what it was that caused Pte McBride to act or react in the extreme way he did when he had been happy positive and looking forward to the future just days before his death remains a mystery," he said.
But what is known is that Pte McBride had been deeply involved in the Church of Scientology, undertaking many of its courses in the two years before his death.
Queensland Coroner John Lock was critical of the Church, finding there was a clear inference that it deliberately dispatched its file on Pte McBride to the United States to ensure that it could not be produced to the inquest, Mr Gordon agreed, although without once mentioning the Church of Scientology in his 76-page report.
He said something obviously brought about Pte McBride's sudden and severe change.
"I find that uncertainty exists and will continue to exist unless and until the (redacted) produces the (redacted) in its entirety and without any culling to Coroner Lock," he said.
Edward Alexander McBride, was born in Ireland, accompanying his family to Australia. He worked first as an electrician and then joined the army in 2003 aged 26.
He twice sought to join the Commando battalion, failing onboth occasions, the second time because of leg injury. He was awaiting medical discharge at the time of his death.
From a well-regarded team player, he became an unpopular loner whose girlfriend said he was searching for meaning in his life.
Mr Gordon concluded he was subjected to some unacceptable behaviour including abuse by fellow 6RAR soldiers but that was not representative of a culture of intimidation.
The defence inquiry had to consider whether there were any failings in defence procedures which contributed to this tragedy.
Mr Gordon concluded there weren't.
"The reality is that there is not a single defence weakness or deficiency which contributed to Private McBride's death in any way, let alone a material way," he said.
* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263).
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