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Last Updated: Friday, 4 November 2005, 13:05 GMT
Inquiry condemns Deepcut police
The four Deepcut victims
The recruits died between 1995 and 2002
A police reinvestigation into the deaths of recruits at the Deepcut army barracks has been sharply criticised.

Privates Sean Benton, James Collinson, Cheryl James and Geoff Gray died at the Surrey barracks between 1995 and 2002.

A review of the Surrey Police inquiry by Devon and Cornwall Police found that detectives did not miss any evidence but their inquiries had lacked focus.

Surrey Police said many criticisms were over procedural issues and that their investigation was "safe and sound".

The report did not resolve the question of whether Surrey Police decided too quickly that the deaths of the soldiers were suicides.

Pte Benton, 20, from Hastings, East Sussex, Pte Collinson, 17, from Perth, Pte James, 18, from Llangollen, north Wales, and Pte Gray, 17, from Seaham, County Durham, were all found dead at the camp from gunshot wounds.

There is no evidence that we have been able to find that leads us to believe that any of these soldiers died as a result of homicide
Surrey Police Deputy Chief Constable Brian Moore

Surrey Police launched a second investigation after the more recent of the deaths in 2001 and 2002 prompted new questions about what was happening inside Deepcut.

In 2003 it announced that no-one was to be prosecuted over the matter, although no details of the findings of the circumstances of the deaths have yet been released to the public.

Devon and Cornwall Police were called in later that year to review the Surrey force's handling of the investigation after the families of the four young recruits questioned the suggested explanation that their deaths were suicides.

A summary of the report, commissioned by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was completed two months ago and released to the public on Friday.

'Failure to tackle bullying'

The report cited the multi-layered complexity of the inquiry and the Surrey force's lack of leadership, saying it was difficult to identify exactly who was in charge of the reinvestigation.

Surrey Police Deputy Chief Constable Brian Moore said: "The bottom line is that after an intensive two-year review of our re-investigation, Devon & Cornwall Constabulary has assured us that they did not find any new lines of inquiry or evidence that we have missed.

"Despite the scale of the investigation, no evidence has come to light so far to indicate any prospect of a prosecution directly related to these deaths.

"Indeed there is no evidence that we have been able to find that leads us to believe that any of these soldiers died as a result of homicide."

The government has resisted the families' calls for a public inquiry but in December launched an independent review into the deaths to be conducted by a High Court judge.

A parliamentary inquiry prompted by the Deepcut deaths said in March that the Army was failing to tackle bullying and had to improve its care of young recruits.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The background to the Deepcut deaths



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