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  1. Tom Savvides

Second family applies for new inquest into soldier's death at Deepcut

The family of a Sussex soldier, who was found dead at Deepcut army barracks in Surrey, have been told they can apply for a new inquest into his death. Private Sean Benton, who was 20 years old and from Hastings, died from multiple gunshot wounds at the military camp 21 years ago. He was the first of four young recruits to die in controversial circumstances at the base between 1995 and 2002. This report by Tom Savvides has interviews with Emma Norton from the human rights group, Liberty and Diane Gray, the mother of Private Geoff Gray, who also died at Deepcut.

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Emotional speech from father of Deepcut soldier

She was one of four Army recruits - found dead in suspicious circumstances - at Deepcut Barracks. But a Coroner ruled that Private Cheryl James had NOT been unlawfully killed.

The 18-year-old was found dead 21 years ago - with a bullet wound to the head. This was the second inquest into her death. Coroner Brian Barker QC, was, however, scathing in his criticism of the Army - and said it had failed in its duty of care.

This video features a series of reports and an emotional speech by the father of Cheryl James

Deepcut soldier Cheryl James "not unlawfully killed"

Private Cheryl James was found dead at Deepcut Barracks Credit: ITV

A two-decade fight for justice came to an end for the family of Private Cheryl James when a coroner delivered the long-awaited ruling into how she died at Deepcut Army Barracks.

Coroner Brian Barker QC found there was no evidence Private Cheryl James, 18, was unlawfully killed at Deepcut Barracks following the inquest at Woking Coroner's Court.

Launching a scathing attack on welfare standards at Deepcut, Mr Barker said the general culture of the base fell below the standard expected, saying the "haphazard provision of welfare support was insufficient".

He also highlighted a culture of sexual promiscuity and heavy drinking at the Surrey base.

The coroner said Deepcut Army barracks had failed in its duty of care to its young recruits, with far too few officers to train and look after the recruits, who were left bored and indisciplined.

Mr Barker said the Army accepted that some instructors "saw young females as a sexual challenge".

He added: "The evidence of this inquest supports the presence of consensual but improper relations between instructors and trainees."

Coroner praises Deepcut parents in fight for justice

Des and Doreen James, parents of Private Cheryl James, arrive for the inquest Credit: John Stillwell / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The coroner of an inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James said it was "regrettable" her death was not better investigated at the time - and praised her parents for their fight for justice.

The young private, 18, died from a fatal bullet wound at Deepcut barracks in November 1995 - one of four young recruits to die at the Army training camp in Surrey over seven years.

A fresh inquest was ordered into her death after High Court judges quashed an open verdict recorded in December 1995.

Speaking at the conclusion of the fresh inquest at Woking Coroner's Court, Coroner Brian Barker QC said: "This has been a long and a difficult exercise, and many events since the autumn of 1995 have had to be examined.

"I begin by recognising the patience and loving fortitude of Mr and Mrs James. They have waited for far too long for the proper examination of the circumstances of their daughter's death and it is clear to all they have devoted immense energy and devotion to that end."

He added: "It is highly regrettable that the investigation of Ms James' death in 1995 was not more thorough and the scene of her death not more fully and scientifically investigated.

"Had it been, some of the inconsistencies of memory might have been avoided and the scientific evidence might have been of much better quality."

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Deepcut soldier 'was in relationships with two others'

An inquest into the death of a soldier at the Deepcut Army barracks in Surrey - 20 years ago - has been told she was in relationships with two other soldiers.

Private Cheryl James died from gunshot wounds in November 1995. The Army said it was suicide. Today her former boyfriend said she'd been drinking in the hours before her death - and was in a troubled mood.

Richard Jones reports.

  1. Divya Kohli

Second inquest begins more than two decades after death of Deepcut army recruit Private Cheryl James

Second inquest into Private James' death begins

A fresh inquest into the death of a young soldier at the Deepcut army barracks in Surrey has begun today - more than 20 years after her death.

Private Cheryl James, who was 18, was discovered with a gunshot wound. She was was one of four teenage recruits to die at the barracks over a seven year period. She was found dead in November 1995. Privates Sean Benton, James Collinson and Geoff Gray also died from gunshot wounds - between 1995 and 2002.

Their families have long campaigned for a full inquiry after inquests which recorded 'open' verdicts - or verdicts of suicide. It follows claims of bullying - and a climate of fear - at the base.

In 2014, the High Court ordered a fresh inquest into Private James' death. Last month, at a preliminary hearing, new evidence emerged to suggest that Private James may have been sexually exploited by senior ranks.

Divya Kohli's report includes an interview with Des James, the father of Private Cheryl James.

  1. National

'Full, frank and fearless' Deepcut investigation promised

By ITV News correspondent Juliet Bremner

Private Cheryl James was one of four teenage recruits to die at Deepcut over a seven-year period. Credit: Family handout

The second inquest into the death of teenage recruit Cheryl James opened today with a promise that it would be a "full, frank and fearless" investigation.

The 18-year-old's parents won a legal battle to hold a new inquest and present additional evidence into the possible reasons why she died at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in November 1995.

But at the opening of the inquest, Judge Brian Barker sitting as coroner, said that he could not allow a wider inquiry in the culture at the base. He pointed out that it was his role to consider "how, not why " Pte James had died.

He promised there would be "a full, frank and fearless inquiry into the death of Cheryl James" but this would not look at allegations of sexual abuse and bullying that may have occurred before the night of her death.

The family had argued at pre-trial hearings that this could have contributed to Cheryl's state of mind and had hoped to introduce witnesses to testify about earlier experiences of abuse at Deepcut.

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