Retired Royal Marine brigadier from Portsmouth fell down the stairs and broke his neck while drunk, inquest hears

A RETIRED brigadier who drank four bottles of wine as a ‘crutch’ to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while living alone during lockdown, fell down the stairs at his home and broke his neck, an inquest has heard.

By Tom Cotterill
Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:13 pm
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 4:18 pm

Mark Noble, 62, who served in the Royal Marines for 31 years, had an alcohol level of 4.7 times the drink drive limit when he fell at his home in Old Portsmouth, on July 22 last year.

Mr Noble, who had served as a helicopter pilot in the first Gulf war and had gone on to become the commanding officer of RNAS Yeovilton, and also the chief executive of the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund, died of spinal injuries and respiratory depression suffered during the fall caused by alcohol toxicity.

His son, Tom Noble, told the Portsmouth inquest his father had developed PTSD and adjustment disorder from his service, but also from losing two friends in high-risk training flights.

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Mark Noble after leaving Portsmouth Crown Court on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 after being convicted for assaulting his wife. He died in 2020 after falling down the stairs of his Portsmouth home and breaking his neck, an inquest heard this week. Picture: (151125-1552)

The inquest heard that Mr Noble’s first wife, Jan, died in 2007 and he went on to have a ‘toxic’ relationship with his second wife, Sandy, which ‘added stresses’ to his life.

In 2015, Mr Noble was given a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to a charge of assault against his wife.

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Tom Noble, who found his father dead at the foot of the stairs, said his father’s drinking had worsened during lockdown, when he was drinking heavily on a daily basis.

Mark Noble after leaving Portsmouth Crown Court on Wednesday, November 25, 2015 after being convicted for assaulting his wife. He died in 2020 after falling down the stairs of his Portsmouth home and breaking his neck, an inquest heard this week.

He said: ‘That was a pattern that developed during the course of the first lockdown, that reflects directly a man who was living on his own and had nothing to do, and sought to do that in lieu of doing anything else, as he had nothing else to do, no employment, because he retired.;

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Jason Pegg said: ‘Mark Noble had served both his country and corps well, he had a 31-year career in the Royal Marines, retiring as a brigadier in 2011.

‘He was a very well respected and regarded officer within the corps. Mark Noble suffered some consequences of his military service, he was diagnosed with PTSD and adjustment disorder.

‘Mark Noble recognised the consequences and sought the support of a psychiatrist and a combat stress charity.

‘Mark Noble drank alcohol to excess and sadly during the lockdown, his use of alcohol increased to around four bottles of wine per day.

‘He was certainly at times using alcohol as a crutch for the PTSD and adjustment disorder.’

Describing his father, Mr Noble said: ‘I couldn’t speak more highly of him, he was a man revered and respected tremendously, loved dearly, a wonderful sense of humour, compassionate, honest.

‘He was a beloved grandfather as well, I would describe him as very traditional, Victorian in his approach, that belied a very compassionate, humorous, sharp wit that we enjoyed very much.’

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