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Cheryl James' friend tells inquest of 'easy to shoot yourself' remark

Cheryl was 18 when she died

A young soldier found dead at Deepcut barracks said to a friend "wouldn't it be really easy to shoot yourself" shortly before she died, an inquest has heard.

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

She was one of four recruits to die at the Army training camp in Surrey over a seven-year period.

Months earlier, Private Sean Benton, 20, was found dead with gunshot wounds while on guard at a perimeter fence.

The inquest has already heard Army recruits were left to take drugs and drink underage

Yvonne Sneddon told Woking Coroner's Court she had been drinking on a coach back to Deepcut when Pte James turned and made the statement to her.

She told the inquest: "We were drinking on the bus and just having a joke and a laugh, and at one point Cheryl turned to me just completely out of the blue and mentioned how easy it would be to shoot yourself."

She said in her statement that Pte James "wasn't mucking about" and "it sent a chill through me".

In court she added: "I asked her why? She said, 'Just if you were going to kill yourself it would be really easy'.

"I said, 'God no, it wouldn't be easy'. I asked her why she was thinking that.

She said, 'If you think about Benton, it must have been dead easy, you would feel no pain'."

Cheryl James was found with a fatal gunshot in 1995

Ms Sneddon said the conversation was soon "dismissed" and the pair went back to laughing and joking.

Ms Sneddon said: "I did ask her if she was okay. "She was very serious, very. As I recall it was a complete lull in conversation from when we were all jokey. It was a complete lull and then she came out with that statement."

Ms Sneddon said she thought it was "so odd" she reported the exchange to a lance corporal, but she could not recall what the outcome was because she went on leave the following day and was not at the barracks when Pte James was found dead.

Ms Sneddon later spoke to investigators looking into the death.

She said she felt an official had already made up his mind that Pte James had committed suicide and was "quite blase" about the investigation.

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