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Royal Navy officer hanged himself ‘by accident’ in Bahrain, inquest finds

By Phil Miller at Milton Keynes coroner’s court

A BRITISH sailor hanged himself “by accident” at a Royal Navy base in the Gulf, a coroner has concluded.

Thirty-year-old Lieutenant Steven Clark was found dead at the Mina Salman facility in Bahrain on December 10 2018.

An inquest in the lieutenant’s hometown of Milton Keynes on Friday ruled out suicide or foul play.

Instead assistant coroner Elizabeth Gray heard evidence that Mr Clark and his girlfriend had experimented with “role-play” during their intimate relationship and concluded it was “more probable this was the cause of his death.”

Lt Clark was due to return to Britain on December 10 but missed his flight, triggering a search of the base.

Naval staff forced access to his cabin after he did not respond to repeated knocking. They found his naked body hanging inside.

His door had been locked internally with the key left in the lock. The windows were closed and the blinds were down.

The lieutenant’s phone was on charge and he did not leave any suicide note. His death came as a shock to friends and family.

“He was looking forward to coming home and spending Christmas with family,” his girlfriend told investigators.

“We had been ring shopping on a number of occasions and Steven had kept my ring size in his wallet which made me feel over the moon,” she added.

He had bought a house in Milton Keynes and was about to undergo training in naval intelligence. The role could have allowed him to spend less time abroad.

His mother Sharon told the inquest Lt Clark was “an amazing son” and that she had been “overwhelmed by the number of Steven’s friends who have told us stories about how he was there for them.” 

His father Frank said “there was nothing that raised any concerns whatsoever” about his mental health.

Friends recalled how he enjoyed golf, go-karting and dragon boating while stationed in Bahrain.

A Royal Navy spokesperson said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Lt Clark’s family and friends at this sad time.”

The Royal Navy base there was paid for by the country’s autocratic king and opened last April.

Pro-democracy activists have repeatedly called for it to be closed.

It can house over 500 personnel and the inquest heard how US and Saudi Arabian forces are closely involved with the base, which operates a fleet of minesweepers to patrol sea lanes used by oil tankers.

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