Police are investigating reports of sexual offences after an inquiry found that a teenage soldier died following two months of harassment by one of her bosses.
Royal Artillery Gunner Jaysley Beck was found dead at Larkhill Camp in Wiltshire in December 2021.
The Army service inquiry report published on Wednesday describes “an intense period of unwelcome behaviour” and said it is “almost certain this was a causal factor” in the 19-year-old’s death.
Wiltshire Police said officers are “aware of reports of sexual offences” and confirmed they are “already actively investigating”.
In October 2021, Gunner Beck’s immediate boss, who wanted a relationship with her but it was not reciprocated, sent her more than 1,000 WhatsApp messages and voicemails. The next month this increased to over 3,500, the Army investigation found.
“Whilst this behaviour ended the week before her death, it appears that it continued to affect her and had taken a significant toll on her mental resilience and wellbeing,” the report said.
Gunner Beck’s mother, Leighann McCready, said: “It’s easy for people to say why don’t you block him, you’ve got to have respect for those above you and Jaysley did have respect, it wasn’t as straightforward as you can block your boss.”
The week before her death, Gunner Beck left a work trip because of his behaviour, and was collected by a friend who found her “trembling and shaking”, the report said.
Ms McCready, of Oxen Park in Cumbria, said her daughter would ring the family saying his behaviour was becoming “increasingly worrying towards her”.
In July 2021, another of Gunner Beck’s seniors made an “unwarranted and unwelcome sexual advance”, the report said.
Ms McCready said her daughter told her the colleague “tried to grab her around the neck and put his hand between her legs”, before she said “get off me sir”.
Gunner Beck slept in her car that night as she was afraid he would go into her room, Ms McCready said.
The man involved was given a minor sanction and told to write the teenager a letter of apology.
The report added that it was “possibly a factor that may have influenced her failure to report other events that happened subsequently”.
The report says family issues, including a bereavement, were also responsible for Gunner Beck’s death, which her family reject.
It detailed three “contributory factors” to Gunner Beck’s death, including: the “significant strain” of a sexual relationship with a married colleague in the last few weeks of her life; a relationship which ended in November 2021 which involved “repeated allegations of unfaithfulness on the part of the boyfriend”; and an “unhealthy approach to alcohol, with episodes of binge drinking”.
It added that Gunner Beck had no diagnosed mental health conditions and had not sought welfare support from anyone in the Army.
The inquiry into her death heard evidence from witnesses about inappropriate sexual behaviour being “commonplace amongst a significant minority” of male soldiers towards their female colleagues at Larkhill.
Measures to tackle this kind of behaviour were introduced in November 2022, it said.
The family’s lawyer, Emma Norton, from the Centre for Military Justice, said: “The Army still has a systemic problem with misogyny and sexism. It’s taking steps to address this but they don’t go nearly far enough.
“Two recent independent reviews (Wigston and the Defence Committee Inquiry into Women in the Armed Forces) have recommended that the handling of serious sexual harassment and bullying cases must be taken away from the single services themselves and given to an independent (or semi-independent) body. And that sexual assault investigations should be handled by civilian police.
Wiltshire Police would not confirm what the investigation was in relation to.
An Army spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Gunner Jaysley-Louise Beck’s family and friends at this difficult time.”
They added that it would be inappropriate to comment further until after the inquest.