AN EX-SOLDIER who told city magistrates he was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of war is accused of lying.
Claims that Jan Trethowan fabricated four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to get off with lighter sentences in court are now being investigated by police detectives.
In two photographs the 28-year-old is seen posing with guns. He also posed wearing the coveted Royal Marines Commando green beret and in another as a Legionnaire of the French Foreign Legion.
A senior military source told The Herald that Mr Trethowan served briefly with the Army on two occasions – but there were no official deployment records showing any deployment to a war zone.
Detective Inspector Nick West, lead investigator on the case, said: “We are investigating what happened in court and what disclosures were made to establish whether any offences were committed.
“There are a lot of people suffering from PTSD and we recognise that it is a very serious illness. We would not take it lightly if people were using that as an excuse to receive a more lenient sentence in court.”
Complaints have also been made at Plymouth Magistrates Court in relation to Mr Trethowan’s claimed military war service.
The matter was raised with the Crown Prosecution Service, which in turn referred the allegations to the police.
CPS district crown prosecutor Kathy Taylor said: “The CPS received information relating to allegations of this nature and passed it to the police to investigate.
“The CPS is a prosecuting rather than investigative authority and unable to take unilateral action against individuals.”
The French Foreign Legion wrote to The Herald in response to our phone call questioning if he had ever joined their service.
A letter from Captain Eric Claret, of the Commandant’s office, confirmed Mr Trethowan was not a member of their personnel – nor had he ever been.
During a number of court hearings in Plymouth, Mr Trethowan’s instructed solicitor informed magistrates of his military service.
On July 28, 2012 he faced court for driving whilst disqualified and without insurance.
His solicitor said he had served, “two periods in Iraq and two in Afghanistan”.
The representative added: “He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, and at times he is not a very well man.”
In December that year Mr Trethowan was back in court after he “fled” to Tenerife rather than facing sentence for driving whilst being disqualified.
The former soldier, formerly of Beacon Park and Ivybridge, pleaded guilty to failing to surrender to bail by not attending his sentencing hearing on August 24.
At the hearing his solicitor told the court: “He is an ex-Army person who served in Iraq and was traumatised by the experience. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and for the past few years he has been a very sick man.”
Official records show that Mr Trethowan – who was known by the name of Ashworth during his military service – served with the Devon and Dorset Regiment, before they became known as the Rifles, between 2003 and 2005.
He then left the Army and rejoined in 2006 with the Royal Artillery before finally leaving in 2007.
A serving Royal Marine, who has fought on the frontline in Afghanistan, said if the allegations are true, the actions of Mr Trethowan posing in the coveted green beret were “worthy of ridicule”.
He said: “The wearing of a green beret which hasn’t been earned is worthy of ridicule.”
Another soldier with considerable battle experience said: “When you join the Army, or indeed any Service, you do so as a life choice. You devote a substantial part of your life to the service and many men and women make the ultimate sacrifice. Often the rewards are minimal, but over recent years the respect of the British public has come as a welcome and unexpected reward in itself and is received gratefully.
“To hijack this respect for personal gain and fabricate claims of PTSD, if that is what has happened here, would only serve to belittle the hard work and sacrifices made by the men who have served in those operational theatres. Any individual using PTSD as an excuse should be properly punished and an example should be made in order to deter others of a similar mindset.”
One marine, who has himself battled mental health problems, said: “Hearing these claims saddens me because it affects the public perception about illnesses of this kind and of the Armed Forces, it begs to question our integrity.
“It’s hard on yourself to come forward and admit mental health problems because you feel like you have let everyone down.
“These guys [Royal Marines with PTSD] are really suffering, they are broken by this illness and for someone to use that as an excuse would be disgraceful.”
During the December hearing, the court heard how Mr Trethowan had spent the previous weeks working at a bootcamp for disadvantaged children and overweight women.
On the BootCampAbroad website, which has now closed down, they referred to Mr Trethowan as “a personal trainer for the past three years after serving six years as a Commando in the British Army.”
Anyone with information they wish to share with the police relating to this matter can contact DI Nick West by calling 101.
The Herald made several attempts to contact Mr Trethowan. A reporter visited his home address as given to the court and tried to contact him through his solicitor, the attempts were met with no response.