Army widow suffered five miscarriages as PTSD husband ‘lashed out’ in sleep


by Emma Dodds |

Lindsey Roberts is suing the Ministry of Defence after her husband's PTSD caused her to have five miscarriages

The widow of an Army Corporal who was killed in Afghanistan has opened up about how she suffered five miscarriages at the hands of her husband.

Lindsey Roberts, 35, was married to Andrew, a bomb disposal expert in the Army, who was killed in 2012.

Tragically, Andrew developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a result of his experiences in the Army - and would unwittingly lash out in his sleep, suffering from "night terrors".

Lindsey suffered five miscarriages at the hands of her husband, Andrew (Credit: SWNS) ©SWNS

The mum-of-four believes that, had Andrew received treatment for the PTSD and been medically discharged, he would still be alive today.

However, that was not the case.

Only six months after his fifth failed suicide attempt in October 2011 in which police were forced to break him out of his car after he downed pills, Andrew was sent over to Nahr-e Saraj in Helmand, Afghanistan. Just over six months after that, he was killed in a Taliban mortar attack on May 4 2012. He was not wearing his protective gear, which Lindsey thinks was due to his mental state.

Lindsey, who had separated from Andrew at the time of his death due to his worsening condition, said: "When a civilian is dealing with a mental illness they are sectioned, but when someone in the Army has a mental illness, they are sent to war."

"Andrew never meant to hurt me. But his night terrors were so bad he would lash out in his sleep and hit me. He thought he was fighting the enemy."

She claims that Army bosses knew about Andrew's PTSD, and therefore should not have sent him back to Afghanistan.

Lindsey and Andrew on their wedding day (Credit: SWNS) ©SWNS

Lindsey's miscarriages, which would often happen weeks after the night attacks - after receiving blows to the abdomen or being thrown to the floor.

She explained: "The first time I miscarried was in 2004 after he returned from a six-month tour of Iraq in 2003. I was absolutely distraught.

"We had been trying for a baby and naturally, Andrew blamed himself, but I knew it wasn't his fault, I knew it was the PTSD.

"Every miscarriage was always in the early stages, before 13 weeks, but it was still horrendous. Every time it would happen the Army would send me flowers."

The miscarriage spurred the couple on to pay a visit to an Army doctor together. She was told on the camp to get counselling, but Andrew was "basically told to get on with it.

"After that he refused to go back to the doctors because he didn't feel they could help despite my desperate pleas all the time."

Lindsey and Andrew went on to have three children - two girls and a boy who are now between the ages of eight and 11.

Their eldest daughter was born in 2005, their son a year later in 2006 and their youngest born in 2009.

She said: "They're only here today because Andrew was on tour while I was carrying them."

Andrew with his comrades (Credit: SWNS) ©SWNS

Andrew, from Middlesbrough, enlisted in the Army at the age of 17, and over the course of ten years was sent on tour nine times to countries including Egypt, Oman and Bosnia.

He was sent to Iraq twice, serving in the 2003 Gulf War, and his last deployment to Afghanistan was his third trip the country.

However, Lindsey started to realise with each return that he was developing PTSD. She said: "He looked as if he was constantly fighting back tears.

"He wasn't physically crying but looked lost and like he was trying to keep a lid on his emotions. He would go quiet and subdued, but a minute later he would be extra happy - you don't go from fighting back tears to being ecstatic.

"Then of course the nightmares started and that confirmed in my mind he was suffering with PTSD. Slowly but surely his erratic behaviour got worse and he started drinking heavily and gambling."

Lindsey then described the horrific things that Andrew had seen during his years of service.

She explained: "On his tour in Iraq in 2002-2003, Andrew was looking after prisoners of war before starting to work in bomb disposal, search and recovery.

"On the tour that he died on, he kept phoning up, saying that he didn't think he was coming back. Every day he was taking his life into his hands - and he knew that before he went away.

"It would spark his night terrors, and after he came back he had to live with the memories of the precarious situations he was put in, along with the memory of watching his friends and colleagues die in blasts."

The official documents Lindsey received (Credit: SWNS) ©SWNS

"While he was asleep he thought he was handling prisoners of war. Andrew would wake up thinking he had been captured and believed he was fighting the enemy.

"It was as if he was possessed, his eyes would be open but he wasn't really awake. He was trapped in a nightmare. I would be woken up by being physically hit when he was writing around in bed.

"He would thrash about and it would quickly escalate. When I woke up I would be petrified, I would shout his name trying to wake him up but you can't wake someone up from sleep walking, and he was just like that.

"The way he know the next morning when he woke up was that he could physically see I was bruised, or I would have to tell him and that was the worst part. He wouldn't recall any of it and would be really confused and upset. All he could do is say sorry.

"To know you've caused someone pain or you've broken something and to have no memory can't be nice."

Doctors and police reported various incidents that Andrew had been involved in to an Army Welfare team in September 2009, but nothing was ever followed up.

Lindsay said: "This was documented in medical records at least once, meaning they knew what I was being subjected to and turned a blind eye."

She called the failure to diagnose Andrew "extraordinary", saying: "He had obvious symptoms like the night-terrors, suicide attempts and heavy drinking.

"At that time, The Army's attitude to soldiers with PTSD was to tell them that they're a trained soldier and they should just get on with it. If they had everyone signed off with PTSD they wouldn't have any soldiers left to go to war. Andrew was a good soldier who did a lot of tours.

"I think it's easier to leave people undiagnosed than have soldiers downgraded or medically discharged."

Andrew with a bigger group (Credit: SWNS) ©SWNS

Lindsey is now pursuing two claims against the Ministry of Defence. One is for alleged "management failures", which she thinks breached the duty of care to Andrew, and the other is a secondary personal injury claim, for the injuries she sustained from Andrew as a result of his PTSD.

This is the first time an Army widow has sued on behalf of her husband.

Lindsey has also set up a charity for war veterans called The Roberts Project. She said: "We pull soldiers off the street and help them recover where the MOD have failed.

"I wish I could go back and physically stop Andrew going back to war. It doesn't change the fact that he died a hero, or that he was a brilliant dad, but he was in pain and suffering.

"I loved my husband as much the day I buried him as I did the day I married him. So I am doing this because the Army need to pay attention to their men and the Army wives who support their soldiers.

An MoD spokeswoman said: "While we wouldn't comment on a specific legal case, we have robust processes in place to learn lessons from fatalities on the battlefield.

"The mental health of everyone who serves our country is of the utmost importance and we encourage anyone who needs help to come forward and get the assistance they deserve."

We hope Lindsey can find peace.

Have you or a loved one ever suffered from PTSD? Let us know over on Facebook and Twitter.

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