SENIOR officers were unaware of a recruit's history of mental illness until after he killed himself with his own rifle, an inquest heard.

Trainee Coldstream Guard Andrew Browne, 24, was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the head in his dormitory at Vimy Barracks, Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, on June 21 last year.

The soldier, who had two children, had a history of depression and had previously attempted suicide, the Richmond inquest was told.

However, senior officers were unaware of his medical history and would have rejected his application to join the Army had they known.

Describing Pte Browne, from Oxfordshire, as an exceptional soldier who had been made squad leader, Captain Charles Foinette said there was no indication the recruit was unhappy.

"I was horrified to hear what was enclosed in his medical history," he said.

The inquest heard how Pte Brown wrote his name on the bullet before shooting himself.

Returning a verdict of suicide, Coroner Geoff Fell said the reason may never be known.

The dead man's mother, Joan Browne, described her son as a caring, thoughtful person and a great sense of humour.

Pte Browne was the seventh soldier to be found dead from gunshot wounds at the base since 1997.

A further seven have died from hanging and families have called for a public inquiry.