Kovco suicide claim ‘unlikely’

The head of the University of NSW’s school of psychiatry, Professor Philip Mitchell, said he did not believe Private Jake Kovco was suicidal when he was shot in the tiny barracks room he shared with two soldier mates in Baghdad on April 21 this year.

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The inquiry has previously heard that all three men were joking around, singing along to pop songs, shortly before Pte Kovco was

shot in the right side of his head with his 9mm Browning pistol.

Both his roommates say they did not see the gun go off.

Prof Mitchell said if Pte Kovco was planning to kill himself it was unlikely he would have pulled the trigger while his mates were still in the room.

Based on evidence given by the roommates, Pte Kovco knew they were planning to go to the gym for a workout that afternoon.

“Those who suicide normally do so on their own,” Prof Mitchell told the inquiry.

“He was aware that he would have time on his own that afternoon.

“If he had been intending to shoot himself he would have waited until those soldiers left the room.

“It makes it highly, extremely unlikely to be suicide because it occurred in the presence of others.”

Prof Mitchell downplayed suggestions that a disturbing dream Pte Kovco had about shooting himself in the head a month before he died could have led him to kill himself.

In his diary, Pte Kovco provided graphic descriptions of the dream but stressed he had no intention of killing himself.

Prof Mitchell said he had read Pte Kovco’s diary and it was difficult to tell if the dream had had any impact on the circumstances surrounding the soldier’s death.

While Prof Mitchell supported a theory suggested by another leading psychiatrist at the inquiry yesterday – that Pte Kovco could have been re-enacting the dream when he was shot – he said the theory was “highly speculative”.