AN ARMY sergeant hanged himself in his barracks room after he lost his licence for drink driving and his army career “took a downward spiral”.

Nathan Shimwell, 33, was found dead by fellow soldiers at Swinton Barracks in Perham Down, near Tidworth, on July 24, an inquest heard on Friday.

He had previously worked with tanks in Bovington, which his mother Jacqueline said was “a career he lived and breathed”.

But in March he was convicted of drink driving and Salisbury coroner’s court heard that “from this stage he was showing signs of depression”.

His friend John O’Brien said Sgt Shimwell’s hopes of promotion had been dashed after he lost his driving licence.

He said Sgt Shimwell was “your typical male and would keep himself to himself” but described him as “confident, competent, likeable - generally a really nice guy”.

On the weekend before his death, Sgt Shimwell had been visiting his partner Aymie Plewka in Wareham, but went home early on Sunday night rather than Monday.

In a statement Ms Plewka said she “could see that Nathan had a problem with alcohol” as their relationship progressed and on that Sunday night he had been drinking lager when he decided to go back to barracks early.

Sergeant Wayne Thompson described Sgt Shimwell as a “very good friend”.

He said at about 11.30pm on Sunday he had been in his room in bed, when Sgt Shimwell walked in and woke him up, kissed him on the forehead and said “I love you Tommo”.

Sgt Thompson said: “I told him to go back to bed and could smell alcohol on him.”

The following morning Sgt Thompson went to knock on Sgt Shimwell’s door at about 9am to make sure he was awake but he could not get into his room because of resistance against the door from the other side.

Staff Sergeant Michael Owens arrived and Sgt Thompson said he thought Sgt Shimwell had fallen asleep against the door.

Paramedics were called, who reached inside the door and confirmed he did not have a pulse.

Police later climbed into the room through a window and confirmed he had hanged himself.

Coroner Ian Singleton said it was likely alcohol had “clouded [Sgt Shimwell’s] judgement” and he could not return a conclusion of suicide, as his intentions remained unclear.