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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 March, 2004, 12:19 GMT
Families' campaign over Deepcut deaths
Clockwise from top left: Sean Benton, James Collinson, Geoff Gray and Cheryl James
The four recruits' families refused to accept they committed suicide
The families of four young soldiers who died at the Deepcut barracks have campaigned for nearly two years to uncover the story behind the deaths.

It was their refusal to accept the Army's version of events which first led to a police investigation into the mystery.

Allegations of bullying, cover-ups and withheld evidence have since been made, adding to the controversy.

Despite more inquiries, some of which have criticised the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Army, the parents' main demand for a public inquiry has so far been denied.

Geoff Gray, from Durham, Sean Benton, from Hastings, James Collinson, from Perth and Cheryl James, from Llangollen, north Wales, died from gunshot wounds at the Royal Logistics Corps HQ between 1995 and 2002.

Pte James' parents, Doreen and Des James, have said they believe their daughter suffered sexual harassment and violence.

He had no girl problems, no money worries and in fact he could not have been at a better time in his life
Geoff and Diane Gray, parents

A friend of Pte James, 18, said the young recruit had been forced into a sexual relationship.

Trevor Hunter, a former colleague of Sean Benton, 20, also came forward claiming he was an "easy target" for vicious verbal attacks and humiliating abuse.

Geoff and Diane Gray said their 17-year-old son loved the army and was tipped to become a supply controller.

"He had no girl problems, no money worries and, in fact, he could not have been at a better time in his life," they said.

The parents of James Collinson, 17, have also insisted he was happy and had no reason to take his life.

Deepcut barracks
Allegations of bullying at the base have been dismissed

Forensic expert Frank Swann, hired by the families, said the fatal wounds were "highly unlikely" to have been self-inflicted.

However Surrey Police's 15-month investigation said no third party was involved when it concluded in September 2003.

But detectives also said no evidence had emerged which could lead to prosecutions over the deaths.

The MoD said the four soldiers committed suicide and claims of bullying at the base have been dismissed.

In August 2002 the Army admitted it had destroyed some potentially important evidence relating to three deaths at the barracks.

If it was flawed and broken then we would not have a professional armed forces in this country
Adam Ingram

It said bloodied uniforms were discarded because there was no indication detectives would re-investigate the case.

An "in-depth reappraisal" of training procedures in the armed forces was also ordered.

Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram said there had been an appropriate response to the affair.

Speaking in September 2003, he insisted: "I don't minimise for one moment the fact that there have been four tragic deaths, but these deaths have taken place over seven years.

"During that time many many thousands of young recruits have gone through our training programme.

"If it was flawed and broken then we would not have a professional armed force in this country."

However the families' campaign was bolstered by the deputy chief constable of Surrey Police's calls for a "broader inquiry" to prevent future tragedies.

And last year they formed a pressure group to continue their fight for "truth, justice and change" with other families of soldiers who have died in non-combat situations in the past nine years.




SEE ALSO:
Deepcut inquiry to be reviewed
21 Oct 03 |  England
Father condemns Deepcut inquiry
19 Sep 03 |  Scotland


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