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Cheryl James's father: Police 'assumed suicide'

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

The father of a a teenage soldier found dead at an army barracks has told an inquest there had been an "assumption of suicide" by the police.

Private Cheryl James, 18, was discovered with a fatal bullet wound at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in November 1995.

It felt cursory. It felt rushed. They rang to say they were reopening the investigation into my daughter's death. They didn't tell me they were lumping it together with Sean Benton's death.

– Mr James told the inquest

John Beggs QC, representing Surrey Police, said at the time the force was also investigating the murder of schoolgirl Milly Dowler and the M25 rapist.

Mr James told the court he had voiced concerns that Surrey Police's resources were "stretched" but he was told they were not.

Mr Beggs said three people had come forward to say Pte James had spoken to them about shooting herself, including one who claimed she had said: "The only way to get out of the army is to put a gun to your head."

Mr James said the comments could possibly be explained by "bravado".

Lawyers for Pte James's family had called for the inquest to be delayed to allow "important" forensic evidence to be heard before other witnesses were called.

The inquest, which is expected to last seven weeks, was adjourned until Tuesday.

Deepcut inquest to go ahead despite family call for delay

Private Cheryl James, 18, was found dead at Deepcut barracks in 1995. Credit: Family handout

A coroner has ruled that a fresh inquest into the death of a teenage soldier Deepcut army barracks should go ahead as planned, despite her family's call for it to be delayed to allow new scientific evidence to be properly considered.

A lawyer for Private Cheryl James' family, who was discovered with a fatal gunshot wound in 1995, had said the "important" pathological evidence shows it may not have been self-inflicted.

However, Brian Barker QC said there was no "practical unfairness" in scientific experts being heard later in the proceedings.

The inquest will examine new evidence suggesting Pte James, may have been sexually exploited by senior ranks shortly before her death.

High Court judges ordered the new inquest in 2014 after they quashed an open verdict recorded in December 1995.

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Deepcut: New evidence may show soldier did not kill herself

New scientific evidence has shown a teenage soldier found dead at Deepcut army barracks more than 20 years ago may not have killed herself, an inquest has heard.

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

Private Cheryl James, 18, was discovered with a fatal bullet wound at in November 1995.

A lawyer for her family has called for a second inquest into her death to be delayed by a few weeks to allow "important" pathological evidence to be properly considered.

Alison Foster QC said: "Now there is distinguished pathological evidence showing that the shot that killed Cheryl James may not have been self-inflicted.

"Third party involvement is more than merely speculative, according to this inquest's pathologist.

"It's important such evidence is fully acquired and assimilated", she added.

Sex abuse claims hang over new Deepcut inquest

The father of a young soldier found shot at a controversial army barracks has said he is convinced that she was abused before her death.

A new inquest was set to open today into Private Cheryl James, 18, who was discovered with a fatal gunshot wound at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in 1995.

Des James, her father, has spoken out after a judge said that he would not hear claims of sexual abuse as part of the proceedings.

Mr James said told ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner that he believed there had been "bullying at an extraordinary scale" at the barracks.

"I do honestly believe that a culture was created at Deepcut that allowed these people to exist and allowed them to intimidate children, effectively," he said.

Deepcut inquest will not consider 'sex abuse culture' claims

A second inquest into the death of a young soldier at a Deepcut army barracks in 1995 will not consider whether it had "a culture of sexual abuse", a coroner has said.

The Deepcut Barracks in Surrey. Credit: PA

Brian Barker QC said that evidence Pte James may have been sexually abused at the time of her death fell within the scope of the inquest.

But he added that it was not within the inquest's scope to consider "whether there was a culture of sexual abuse at Deepcut Barracks, including the sexually inappropriate treatment of female recruits within the chain of command".

Des James, father of Private Cheryl James, arrives at Woking Coroner's Court Credit: PA

"This is not a public inquiry into the culture at Deepcut in mid-1990s," Mr Barker told the inquest.

"Any allegation of previous sexual harassment or abuse will fall out of scope of the inquest and cannot be pursued by questioning", he said.

The ruling would remain under review "as the evidence develops" during the seven-week inquest, he added.

'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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Father: 'We may never know what happened at Deepcut'

The father of Private Cheryl James who died at Deepcut barracks, hopes his daughters death will be fully investigated if a new inquest takes place.

Des James says they may never know what happened to his daughter but her death must be investigated further.

Pte James was found dead after an apparent suicide in 1995. She was one of four soldiers who died at the barracks between 1995 and 2002.

The solicitor acting on behalf of the family, Emma Norton, says there is no guarantee that another inquest will take place.

Profile of Deepcut four

Pte James Collinson and Pte Cheryl James Credit: Press Association Images

Private James Collinson

Aged 17, from Perth, Scotland. Pte Collinson was found with a single gunshot wound through his chin in March 2002.

Private Cheryl James

Age 18, from Llangollen, north Wales. Pte James was found dead with a bullet through her forehead, in November 1995.

Pte Sean Benton and Pte Geoff Gray Credit: Press Association Images

Private Sean Benton

Aged 20, from Hastings in East Sussex. Pte Benton was found dead with five gunshot wounds while on guard in June 1995.

Private Geoff Gray

Aged 17, from Seaham in County Durham. Pte Gray was found dead with two gunshot wounds to his head while on guard duty in September 2001.

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