The widow of a former soldier with severe mental health issues who died last week has spoken out against the care services that she claims let her husband down.

Gary Etherington, 52, was found dead by police on November 30.

Emergency services were called to Bugsby's Way, where they found him in a van with blacked-out windows and the keys in the ignition.

Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious.

His wife Kay, who initially raised the alarm that he was missing, told News Shopper that Gary had been hearing voices for years telling him to harm himself and others, which all started after he came back from fighting overseas as a Grenadier Guard.

She said that he was showing obvious signs of PTSD and psychosis but his medication never seemed to work as well as it should.

News Shopper:

The couple, who lived in Greenwich and had five children between them from previous relationships, had been married for 13 years, but they had separated because Kay wasn't able to deal with his outbursts.

Kay told News Shopper: “We split because I woke up one night to him strangling me, I thought I was going to die. He would come around and just be so sorry and a completely different person.

“I told him to go away for a while and get better and then we can get back together, but I could not deal with this.”

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Last year Kay went on holiday to Barcelona and had told Gary to stay at her house because he had been living in a van.

She said: “I let him stay in the house because he couldn’t hurt me if I wasn’t there.”

However, the day she came back, she found Gary on the bed twitching. He had taken a large quantity of morphine pills.

“He was referred to Oxleas after this but all they offered was a phone conversation with a psychologist, he never stayed at Oxleas House, they wouldn’t help him.”

Kay claims that Oxleas NHS Trust would not help because Gary was not a priority, despite his history of mental illness.

The grieving woman said that when he wasn’t in a psychotic state, he was just a cheeky and happy man who would go above and beyond to help those that needed it.

Kay said: “He would say to me ‘I fought for this country and now they are refusing to help me when I am struggling.’

“I am so hurt that we were both let down. The autopsy results are irrelevant now, his death was unnecessary.”

Kay says she would call Oxleas frequently asking for help because she had never dealt with something so out of her control and she knew nothing of how to deal with mental health issues.

Gary had contacted Kay the Thursday before he died, texting as he usually did and had said: “Night night I love you.” and this was the last that she heard from him.

He had been staying with a friend in Newham but the noise in the house was making the voices worse, Kay said.

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After not hearing from him she became increasingly concerned and reported him missing.

She added: "I just couldn't help him."

A spokeswoman from Oxleas NHS Trust said: "We are very sorry to hear about this tragic incident.

"Whilst there is an active police investigation under way, it would be inappropriate for us to comment."