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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 May, 2003, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Deepcut missing bullet 'mystery'
Cheryl James
Cheryl James died in 1995
The father of a soldier who died of bullet wounds at an army barracks claims a vital piece of evidence has gone missing.

Des James has claimed that the bullet removed from his daughter, Cheryl, in a post mortem examination after she died in 1995, has been lost.

Cheryl James, from Llangollen, north Wales, was one of four soldiers who died of gunshot wounds at the Royal Logistics Corps HQ at Queen Elizabeth Barracks, Deepcut, Surrey between 1995 and 2002.

The deaths are the subject of a Surrey Police inquiry after an army verdict of suicide was disputed by the families - who are campaigning for a public inquiry into the deaths.

The mystery goes on and we will probably never know for sure what happened
Des James
The Army has said that 18-year-old Ms James shot herself in the head with her SA80 high-velocity rifle.

But her father says it is unlikely that will ever be confirmed because the bullet has gone missing.

On Tuesday, officers confirmed that they did not receive the bullet which killed Ms James.

Mr James said: "The bullet was mentioned in the post-mortem (examination) therefore it was retained and didn't exit her body.

"The police found a witness who attended the post-mortem...she collected the fragments of the bullet and labelled them up.

"We've known this for some time, but during the course of the police investigation we thought it would be improper to bring it into the public domain.

"But by taking these issues into the public domain it is the only way we are going to get a public inquiry.

THE DEAD SOLDIERS
Pte Sean Benton, 20, from Hastings, East Sussex
Pte Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, north Wales
Pte Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, County Durham
Pte James Collinson, 17, from Perth, Scotland
"I still find it hard to believe there was a conspiracy, but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is working damned hard to make us believe there was one."

Mr James added that the alleged disappearance of the bullet had left more questions for the families.

He said: "There must be an audit trail - who ordered it (the bullet's disposal), when was it disposed of and by whom?

"None of those questions have been answered.

"The mystery goes on and we will probably never know for sure what happened.

Campaign

"Our hope is that when the police investigation is finally concluded that the questions left unanswered will force the authorities to give us a public inquiry."

And Mr James added that he would continue his campaign for an inquiry indefinitely.

"If we could put a line under it, if we could conclude it, don't you think that's what we would do?," he added.

"That's only what any parent would want to do."

In a statement, Surrey Police confirmed they had never received a bulled removed from Ms James' body.

A spokeswoman said: "The bullet which killed Cheryl James was never part of the evidence handed over to the current Surrey Police inquiry.

"We are working to establish what happened to it and are not prepared to go into further detail."

The MoD added that it could not comment further as the inquiry was a civil matter.




SEE ALSO:
Father's anger at Deepcut visit
08 May 03  |  Wales


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