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Thursday, 20 June, 2002, 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK
SAS veteran's suicide plunge
Cessna 172
Charles Bruce fell to his death from a Cessna 172
A coroner has recorded a verdict of suicide on an SAS veteran who deliberately jumped to his death from a light aircraft.

Charles Bruce, from Northamptonshire, was said to have been suffering with mental health problems when he leapt 5,000 feet without a parachute.

Mr Bruce, 45, a veteran of the Falklands and tours of Northern Ireland, died on 8 January after jumping out of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

He left his friend and business partner Judith Haig, 29, to land the plane alone at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.


He turned to get out - I grabbed hold of him, trying to hold on

Judith Haig

Miss Haig, of Halfpenny Lane, Cobham, Kent, said she tried to grab him, but could not stop him jumping.

"It all happened so fast. I heard him unbuckle his seatbelt - it's a very distinctive clink - he tried to conceal it from me.

"He turned to get out. I grabbed hold of him, trying to hold on with one hand to control the aircraft, and one hand on him.

"There was quite a lot of movement in the cockpit."

Mental illness

Miss Haig told the inquest that the SAS veteran then leapt out of the door.

Mr Bruce had a history of mental illness and had been prescribed lithium to control his depression.

Following his army career, he began working as a security adviser and bodyguard for celebrities, including the comedian Jim Davidson.

He had been awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal in 1986 for his service in Northern Ireland.

The inquest was told his experiences in the special forces continued to affect him and he suffered prolonged bouts of depression and mental illness.


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10 Jan 02 | England
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