A decorated Royal Navy serviceman died after collapsing during a fitness test he had been told he had to complete, or he would be kicked out of the force, an inquest has been told. Ian Fleming, 53, had been awarded six medals during tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and was on track for a promotion. The Royal Navy rating died in 2020 during a jogging exercise at HMS Collingwood in Hampshire. It was part of a training course to secure his promotion to the rank of petty officer.
But his widow Michelle Fleming told Portsmouth coroners’ court that Mr Fleming had been given an “ultimatum” by his superiors. Ms Fleming said her late husband was told that he had to perform the test, or leave the Navy entirely.
The inquest heard that Mr Fleming was fearful of the fitness test, which involved an obstacle course, a log run and team-building exercises. Failing to complete it would mean that he lost pay, his accommodation and his rank.
Ms Fleming added that Mr Fleming was “noticeably anxious” about the training course.
She added that the worried serviceman had asked for it to be rescheduled several times.
She said: “As soon as Ian found out the date he went into a complete meltdown. This was out of character for Ian as he was always laid back.”
Mr Fleming even sent an email to his commanding officer, saying he “wasn’t in the right place” to do the course, and that he was setting himself up for failure. His wife said: “He told me he was given an ultimatum.
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Clinical pathologist Adnan Al-Badri founded that Mr Fleming, who was a smoker, had a significantly enlarged heart as well as severe ischaemic heart disease, also known as coronary artery disease.
Mr Al-Badri said: “The process of exercise put on the heart precipitated an ischaemic attack. Sudden exercise if he had not exercised for a while, given the condition of his heart, could be a risky thing to do.”
The inquest continues.