THE family of a Territorial Army soldier who stole a gun from his barracks in what they say was a suicide bid are praying he will be spared jail when he is sentenced next month.
Relatives of Corporal Harry Killick say jail is not the appropriate place for the soldier, who is battling to deal with the mental strain of what he witnessed while serving his country in Afghanistan.
The 36-year-old pleaded guilty at Hove Crown Court on Friday to the theft of an assault rifle and ammunition from TA army barracks in Dyke Road, Brighton, which could mean he faces up to ten years in prison when sentenced next month.
Even more serious charges of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, which could have seen Cpl Killick jailed for life, were dropped.
He was arrested in October at a home in Ditchling Rise, Brighton, by Sussex Police officers in what his family say was a suicide attempt.
His family say Cpl Killick had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after a six-month tour with the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment in Afghanistan in October 2011, where he witnessed the death of colleagues and serious injuries suffered by others.
Colleagues who served with him are understood to have expressed concern at his mental health after he returned from Afghanistan.
It is understood that he had been seen repeatedly watching combat footage shot on his helmet camera showing a colleague, who was killed in an explosion.
His ex wife had also raised her concerns about his behaviour and said during one visit he had given her his car keys and bank cards and told her he would not be seeing her or his two children again.
His sister Linda Killick told The Argus: “We feel that a jail sentence would not be appropriate in Harry’s condition as he needs professional medical help.
“There’s already been so many offers of help from charities we are confident that if released he’d get the correct help and be close to his family.
“The prison service is doing its best, but everyday spent inside is like torture for him.
“We saw Harry on Thursday and we told him about all the support he is getting on the Facebook campaign and he is overwhelmed and thanks everybody in Brighton for supporting him.”
Cpl Killick will be sentenced on Monday February 11 after psychiatric reports are carried out.
A campaign to highlight his situation has already attracted more than 1,300 supporters.
See the latest news headlines from The Argus:
- Up to 300 council posts could go in new budget proposals
- Youngster in late night two car crash dies of injuries
- Woman lifted off ground and taken into Brighton alleyway by man who tried to rape her
- UPDATE: Motorcyclist leaves hospital with broken ribs after crash with van after swerving to avoid another
- Scam gang conned elderly out of £250k