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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 06:39 GMT
Deepcut father lodges theft complaint
Army barracks
Four families are calling for a public inquiry about the Deepcut deaths
The father of a soldier from north-east England whose death at an Army barracks is being investigated, has complained to police that the Army failed to return all his son's belongings.

Geoff Gray has lodged an official complaint with Surrey Police alleging the Army destroyed up to 26 personal items belonging to his son, Private Geoff Gray.

Mr Gray recently criticised the Army, saying it had withheld love letters received by his son, who was 17 when he died in September 2001.

Private Gray, from Seaham, Co Durham, is one of four soldiers whose deaths from gunshot wounds at Deepcut Barracks are being investigated by police.

Mr Gray, now living in Hackney, east London, said he had made his complaint after wondering why the Army had not given back the letters and what else they may have.

He said: "We had a meeting when the police handed back our letters.

'Proper procedures'

"We have now made an allegation of theft against the British Army and the police said they will be following it up. They took a three-page statement from us."

He said some of the items were small articles, but was angry that they had been destroyed.

Surrey Police has not been able to confirm whether it had received a complaint from Mr Gray.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said it had followed the proper procedures relating to Private Gray's belongings.

Independent expert

They said: "We wouldn't wish to cause the family any distress. If they take legal action we will cooperate with Surrey Police as we have been doing in the rest of the investigation."

Army investigations concluded the Deepcut four committed suicide by turning their own rifles on themselves, but their families have rejected the findings and are demanding a public inquiry.

Surrey Police is re-examining evidence and an independent forensic expert hired by the families recently spent more than six weeks at the barracks.

The other deaths at Deepcut involved in the investigation are those of Privates Sean Benton, 20, from Hastings, East Sussex, James Collinson, 17, from Perth, and Cheryl James, from Llangollen, north Wales.

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