A former soldier who served in Iraq and lost four friends in Afghanistan has died following a suspected drugs overdose.
Simon Wilcock, aged 24, described as “a real character, the life and soul of the party” by his grieving mum, fell into a spiral of depression after he broke his ankle and was unable to fly out with the Royal Dragoon Guards to Afghanistan.
Left at home and battling depression, the dad-of-one from Grasmere Drive, Bentham, got involved with the wrong crowd and was booted out of the Army after getting caught with drugs in Morecambe.
Simon’s mum Beverley Wilcock said her son had seen disturbing scenes on a peacekeeping tour in Iraq in 2007, including trying to save the life of a five-year-old Iraqi girl who was shot through the head.
And the loss of his four friends in Afghanistan following his injury in March 2011 had left him devastated.
He was found dead in a house on Hillside Road, Low Bentham, shortly before midnight on January 5.
Although a post-mortem examination was inconclusive and toxicology tests are awaited police believe Simon may have taken drugs.
He grew up in Brookhouse and attended Caton St Paul’s CE Primary School and Queen Elizabeth School in Kirkby Lonsdale before joining the Royal Dragoon Guards.
Ms Wilcock, who is separated from Simon’s father Nigel, said: “Everything went wrong for Simon.
“He was supposed to go to Afghanistan with his brother Adam, who was also in the Army, and he was going to be in charge of his troop.
“But then he broke his ankle while dancing in the pub. He had plates installed and was on crutches.
“He started getting depressed because he felt like he had let his mates down and he was even more devastated when four of them died, including his best friend.
“He started spending his afternoons in the pub and ended up getting caught up with the wrong crowd.”
Ms Wilcock added that Simon was kicked out of the Army after an incident during a night out in Morecambe in May 2011 ended with police finding him with a penknife and a wrap of cocaine.
She said: “I couldn’t believe it, because Simon had always been so anti drugs.
“Things got worse after he left the Army and he didn’t cope with life very well.