Iraq veteran attempted suicide four times after being wrongly accused of killing Iraqi

Iraq veteran Joseph McCleary has today told The Times about how it took 12 years to clear his name after being falsely accused of war crimes – an ordeal that led him to attempt suicide four times and left him a broken man, unable to speak of the army to his wife and three children.

Hilary Meredith Solicitors is acting for Joseph McCleary and around 30 other Iraq veterans in their proposed legal action against the Ministry of Defence and Phil Shiner’s professional indemnity insurers.

The veterans have launched a crowdfunding appeal at:

CrowdJustice: The world’s crowdfunding platform for legal action

Today’s Times reports how it was February 2004 and Guardsman Joseph McCleary was playing on a PlayStation in his room at Wellington Barracks, Westminster, when two military police officers arrived at his door.

Joseph was 24, had joined the Irish Guards aged 16 and had just returned from a tour of Northern Ireland. He initially thought the men, from the Special Investigation Branch, were checking soldiers’ TV licences.

They arrested him on suspicion of the manslaughter of a 17-year-old Iraqi who drowned in the Shatt al-Basra canal in May 2003 after being caught looting. Joseph’s life changed.
It took 12 years for him to clear his name – an ordeal that led him to attempt suicide four times and left him a broken man, unable to speak of the army to his wife and three children.

The former soldier, who has depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Speaking to The Times he said: “I wanted to die and I screamed for help. They washed their hands of me. It still brings tears to my eyes.

“I want an apology – I want them to explain to me why they left me to rot. They dragged me through the mud and destroyed half of my life.”

Joseph, whose story is told in War Trials, a book by Will Yates, was deployed to Iraq in 2003. Days later he lost two men from his platoon in a firefight.

He said: “You had to grow up pretty fast. I remember lying in the room after the firefight and around 30 of us were in our sleeping bags. You could just hear people weeping. It was horrific. The next morning you had to be back up and at it. It was torture.”

He was part of the crew of a Warrior armoured vehicle and was on the last day of a tour of duty of Iraq when the alleged drowning of Ahmed Jabar Karheem took place.