A TEEN soldier screamed “I’m sorry” to his girlfriend over the phone moments before he was struck by a train passing through the New Forest.

An inquest heard how William Brutnell, of Bracken Way in Walkford, Christchurch, was hit near the level crossing at Totton on February 9 shortly after telling Zoe Chapman he loved her.

Mr Brutnall, a trooper with the Blues and Royals Regiment, the same regiment as Prince Harry's, had been to a party where he had spent the night with a woman while they were both drunk.

But in a statement read during the hearing Miss Chapman described the 18-year-old “a true gentleman” and said they had discussed their future together.

Daily Echo:

William Brutnell

The pair first met during an air cadet training camp in 2012 where she said they “clicked immediately and were firm friends there on.”

She was contacted by William’s sister via Facebook when he had failed to turn up for an exercise as part of his training.

“I started to become very concerned and was aware something wrong,”

Miss Chapman said. “On the fourth attempt [to call him] he answered. I told him I loved him. I could hear him crying. He sounded very upset and distressed about something.

He said ‘I’ve been suffering from depression for a while’. He then started screaming down the phone ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry!’ I kept trying his phone with no results.”

It wasn’t until 2.30am the following morning that Miss Chapman finally knew what happened to him when police knocked on her door.

The hearing was told things took a turn for the worse during one weekend for the promising soldier when friends started noticing he had become “upset” and “stressed”.

His friend, Lauren Price-Jones, with whom he had attended Brockenhurst College, said in her statement William confided in her that he had gotten drunk at a party slept with another girl and was concerned about Miss Chapman finding out.

In a statement read to the inquest, Ms Price-Jones said: ''He ended up sleeping with the girl but she was accusing him of rape. He wasn't too worried as all of his friends saw how she was coming on to him.''

Mr Brutnell, from Christchurch, Dorset, also told another friend, Jack Marsden, about the incident at the party but Mr Marsden told the inquest that he believed his friend was more worried about his girlfriend finding out than of any potential police investigation.

Mr Marsden said: ''He said he had been taken advantage of by the girl because he was very drunk. He kept telling me he was worried about Zoe finding out from a third party.''

Mr Marsden told the inquest how he had left Mr Brutnell at the railway station as he took a train.

Another Brockenhurst student Jack Marsden, of Ashburton Close, Southampton, said William visited him the day before he died but wasn’t overly concerned with his state but he had been particularly vague about returning to the barracks at Bovington, where William was based.

Mr Marsden left him to get a train to Bournemouth at Totton station and said William’s embrace was strong but not out of the ordinary.

The train driver, Stuart Mitchell, who has worked for Cross Country Trains for 15 years, was doing the 18:55 Banbury to Bournemouth route when he came across a figure in the tracks.

In his statement read aloud he said: “I shouted ‘no’ as I slammed on the emergency brakes. It all happened very quickly. I then heard the impact which was a very loud, sickening noise, and heard him going under the train.

“I found the incident extremely distressing, although I know there’s nothing I could have done. I still picture the whole evening.”

Recording a verdict of suicide, senior coroner for South Hampshire Grahame Short, said: “He had a lot of promise and seemed to be enjoying life. I do think it’s likely he was suffering from depression and wasn’t receiving any treatment.

"It’s a condition which can affect people when they first reach adulthood and the realisation of the responsibilities that that brings.

"It’s clear there was some form of sexual incident with a girl who was not his girlfriend."