David Bradley, 41, turned himself in to police last Sunday, 12 hours after killing his aunt and uncle Peter and Jospehine Purcell and their two sons. All four victims were killed at point blank range with an automatic pistol.
Bradley was a veteran of the first Iraq conflict 15 years ago during which he had seen six soldiers killed by US pilots in a “friendly fire” incident.
Victim Josephine Purcell’s brother Joe, 51, said, “If this was caused by the stress of war then it is awful. Soldiers go through terrible things and they need to be looked after.”
Larry Cammock, of the Gulf War Veterans Association, said Bradley first contacted him for help in 1996 - five years after returning from Iraq. He said the former soldier suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cammock said, “He was struggling with life and was being plagued by very strong mood swings. He felt as if he had been used and abused by the armed services and then just dumped.”
Referring to Bradley’s time in Iraq, Cammock added, “He came across the bodies of a lot of Iraqis who had been killed during the bombing raids. He had also seen a number of his colleagues killed in ‘friendly fire’ incidents.”
Hundreds of veterans from the first Iraq conflict have blamed Gulf War Syndrome for a range of crippling illnesses including mental health problems.
Shaun Rusling, of the Gulf Veterans Association, said, “We don’t know how many end up in care or in prison, but seven are in prison for murder and 250 have committed suicide.
“The ministry of defence has deliberately played it down. I’m only surprised that it’s not even more common - 30,000 lads went to the Gulf, now 10,000 are ill and 8,000 have applied for disablement pensions.”