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Soldier defends probe into veteran's suicide

A soldier tasked with reviewing an investigation into an Afghan vet's suicide defended himself Thursday against allegations of bias. Sgt. Scott Shannon led the final investigation into how the military handled the life and death of Cpl.

A soldier tasked with reviewing an investigation into an Afghan vet's suicide defended himself Thursday against allegations of bias.

Sgt. Scott Shannon led the final investigation into how the military handled the life and death of Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

But his conclusions - that no one in the military broke any rules in their dealings with Langridge or his family - are part of a continuing inquiry at the Military Police Complaints Commission.

The inquiry was called after three years of what Langridge's family called flawed and biased investigations into what happened in the days before and after Langridge killed himself in 2008.

But during a day and a half of often-combative testimony at the inquiry, Shannon insisted his review was thorough and detailed.

At issue is the refusal of the military to tell the family there had been a suicide note; how officers decided who would plan the funeral; and how they treated Langridge's continuing struggles with addiction and possibly post traumatic stress disorder.

Shannon, who has conducted 109 investigations in his six years with the National Investigative Service, had been tasked with reviewing prior investigations into those problems.

Langridge hanged himself in his Edmonton barracks following prior suicide attempts and hospitalization and treatment for addiction.

In the days before his death, he had been on strict supervision on the base in what his family and friends considered a suicide watch.

At one point, the inquiry heard that he said he'd rather kill himself than return to his unit.

But Shannon said that statement was among the facts he considered irrelevant as he reviewed whether the military's treatment of Langridge constituted either criminal negligence or violation of military law.

The possibility of criminal charges had been raised by Langridge's mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes of Victoria.

Langridge's addictions and mental-health issues did not factor in to determining whether the threshold of criminal negligence on the part of the military was met, the inquiry heard.

It's impossible to pin responsibility for a suicide, Shannon said.

"I'm not Cpl. Langridge. He's the only person who can answer that question," Shannon said.

As for the specific complaints of failure to carry out military duties in the wake of Langridge's suicide, Shannon insisted that the military followed all the existing rules and procedures.