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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 12:16 GMT 13:16 UK
Soldiers at centre of Deepcut mystery
Four young recruits died from gunshot wounds
The four army recruits who died at an army barracks in Surrey were young and happy - but the army concluded they had killed themselves.

Privates Sean Benton, Cheryl James, Geoff Gray, and James Collinson died from gunshot wounds while on sentry duty at the Deepcut barracks near Camberley in Surrey.

The army says the deaths were suicide but following pressure from the soldiers' parents a police investigation is now underway.

The body of 17-year-old Private Cheryl James was found in woodland outside the barracks in 1995.

Cheryl James
Cheryl James may have suffered harassment

She was found with a bullet through her forehead - the army said she had committed suicide but an inquest recorded an open verdict.

Doreen and Des James of Llangollen, north Wales, believe their daughter suffered sexual harassment and violence at the Surrey barracks.

One of Cheryl's friends said the young recruit had been forced to have sex with a corporal at the barracks.

Mr James said: "I certainly believe there was a culture of quite sinister bullying at the Deepcut camp."

'Easy target'

In the same year as Ms James died, 20-year-old Sean Benton from Hastings, West Sussex was found dead with five gunshot wounds - another suicide according to the army.

Private Sean Benton
Sean Benton was "an easy target" for bullies

A former friend of Mr Benton recently came forward to claim that vicious verbal attacks and humiliating abuse had caused the young man to take his own life.

Trevor Hunter said: "He was an easy target because he had a croaky voice, he spoke his mind and his kit was a mess."

He said Mr Benton suffered a campaign of victimisation because "his face didn't fit".

'No worries'

Teenager Geoff Gray, from Seaham in County Durham joined the army on his 17th birthday - fulfilling a lifelong ambition to serve his country.

Geoff Gray
Geoff Gray had no "girl worries"

His parents, Geoff and Diane, believe he loved the army and was always trying to improve himself.

He was preparing to take a HGV driving test and was tipped to become a supply controller - ordering supplies for units on assignment.

The Grays, who have another young son, said: "He had no girl problems, no money worries and in fact he could not have been at a better time in his life."

Geoff was on guard duty last September when he was found dead with two bullet wounds to his head.

'Wall of silence'

The army believe he took his own life.

James Collinson
James Collinson died earlier this year

Deepcut was once again under scrutiny in March of this year when another young recuit was found dead after an apparent suicide.

Private James Collinson, 17, from Perth was found with a single gunshot wound while on guard duty.

His parents insist he was happy and had no reason to take his life and they believe he was murdered.

They believe that the army has put up a "wall of silence" to prevent the police finding out the truth.

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