A recently-married former soldier who died after taking a massive overdose of anti-depressants was a victim of Gulf War syndrome, claims his family.

Mark with his widow Melanie and daughter Katie, now two

Mark Gray, 27, from Sherburn-in-Elmet, near Selby, left a note for his devastated bride of only six weeks who is about to give birth to their second child.

Mr Gray, who served in Iraq with the 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards, had everything to live for, his mother Marilyn Gray said today.

The couple have a two-year-old daughter Katie, and Mr Gray was a "doting father" who was looking forward to the birth of his first son this week.

They had lived in Oak Terrace, Sherburn-in-Elmet, for five years after Mr Gray had secured a job as a paint sprayer.

But the former infantry soldier died in Pontefract General Infirmary after taking a fatal overdose of anti-depressant tablets he had been prescribed by his GP.

Mrs Gray, from Skeffling, East Yorkshire, said her son had been examined at the Gulf Veterans' Illness Unit in London last December where he was diagnosed as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Four months later his family was arranging his funeral, convinced he had taken an overdose after suffering from a range of symptoms associated with Gulf War syndrome.

These included severe skin irritation, heavy sweating, chest pains, bleeding gums, depression, fatigue and joint pains.

Mrs Gray said: "I have spoken to numerous Gulf War syndrome victims since Mark's death, and they all share the same classic symptoms.

"The itching was driving him mad. He also woke up nearly every night with nightmares, flashbacks to things he had seen on the front line, and these were at their worst shortly before he took the overdose.

"He was a caring son and we were very close. I can't believe he's gone."

Mr Gray's widow, Melanie, is being comforted by her family.

A spokesman at Pontefract coroner's office said the inquest had been adjourned for toxicology and histology test results. They had also asked the Army to provide Mr Gray's medical records.

The National Gulf Veterans' and Families Association, which is backing Mr Gray's family, today accused the Ministry of Defence of "continuing to mislead veterans and GPs with incorrect diagnosis in an attempt to ensure no blame is accepted by them for veterans' illnesses."

An association spokesman said 400 Gulf War veterans had died since April 1991, and they believed that two-thirds of them were suicides.

An MoD spokesman said: "We are liaising with the Americans to pool our research results to try to find out what is causing veterans' illnesses.

"But so far there is no overall answer, and nothing the MoD can do about it."

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