A Sheffield hospital theatre nurse who helped to save the lives of dozens of injured soldiers in Afghanistan has been kicked out of the Army for fiddling allowances.
Lieutenant Colonel Angela Knock – the most senior female officer to face a court martial in the UK – was dismissed from the service after admitting fiddling allowances before she went overseas.
Knock a hospital theatre nurse from Chapeltown, Sheffield, was described as a ‘shining light’ at Camp Bastion hospital in Helmand Province, helping save soldiers maimed in the conflict. The 51-year-old mother of three sons forged her gardener’s signature to claim money for tidying the garden of a house she barely ever lived in.
And she also claimed child care allowance for her sons, one of whom was at university. A court martial at Catterick Garrison was told she claimed £12,835 between 2007 and 2011, some of which she would have been entitled to anyway, had she not resorted to cheating the system.
Dingle Clark, defending, said the case a ‘personal and professional tragedy’ for Knock.
He said: “She has had an outstanding civilian and military career. Very few defendants can say that their conduct has transformed other people’s lives.
“She has been at the very forefront of trauma theatre surgery and has dealt with the horror of catastrophic injuries.
“There are dozens of soldiers whose lives have been alleviated by her skills and whose life chances have been improved.
“When she deployed she left her loved ones and her children and foolishly created false documents to support her claims.”
The hearing was told Lt Col Knock, who served with the Territorial Army’s 212 (Yorkshire) Filed Hospital, was also being investigated by the Department of Works and Pensions over widows benefits amounting to £73,000 she has received since her husband’s death in 1997.
Lieutenant Colonel Graham Coombe, prosecuting said before deploying to Afghanistan in 2007, 2009 and 2011, Knock made a claim for gardening services for her home on Upper Ley Court, Chapeltown,
But the court martial was told she was spending most of her time living at Endcliffe Hall, the Regiment’s HQ in Sheffield with her sons and former army captain David Morris.
But instead of getting her gardener to sign the claim for work to be done at her home in Chapeltown, Knock had forged the gardener’s signature and then submitted the claim to a military adjudication officer who had allowed it.
The court was told she had also forged signatures on other claims to get allowances for gardening and for child care for her sons, the eldest of whom is now 22.
On one occasion she submitted a document dealing with a claim but later admitted: “I just made up a load of figures.” She told army police: “I don’t know why I did it.”
Knock who is also a theatre nurse at Sheffield’s Royal Hallamshire Hospital but could now lose her job there as well.
The court martial was told on her final day in Afghanistan she helped deal with four critical cases including a triple amputee and a double amputee.
In 2011 she ran the UK’s Role 3 field hospital at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, acknowledged as the best field hospital in the world.
After returning from Afghanistan she said: “A lot of guys who come in, such as the triple amputees who suffer severe blood loss, would never have made it to hospital in Britain.
“They survive because of the speed of care from their colleagues and medics in the field and when they arrive here there are four or five surgeons in the emergency department waiting to start work. That doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
The court martial was told a former Commanding Officer of Knock had sent her a message saying: “You have served your country well on many occasions and been stupid just this once.”
Knock was given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years and dismissed from the Army after admitting 10 charges of forgery and submitting false documents.
Assistant Judge advocate General Paul Camp told her: “This is a tragedy for you but you have been involved in a long course of dishonesty
“You did your job through severe pressure and there are people alive now who would not have been had it not been for you.”
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