Death of bullied British soldier, new inquest

Private Cheryl James was found dead from a single gunshot wound in November 1995. Photograph: PA

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Deepcut barracks: fresh inquest ordered into soldier’s death

High court quashes 1995 open verdict into death of Private Cheryl James, one of four soldiers who died amid bullying claims

Friday 18 July 2014 11.09 BST

High court judges have ordered a fresh inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James, who died at Deepcut barracks.

Her family applied for a fresh investigation with the consent of the attorney general.

Pte James, 18, was found dead from a single gunshot wound in November 1995. An inquest recorded an open verdict.

She was one of four soldiers who died at the Surrey barracks between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse.

Privates Sean Benton, James Collinson and Geoff Gray also died from gunshot wounds.

Mr Justice Mitting and Judge Peter Thornton QC both agreed that there was “an insufficiency of inquiry” at the 1995 inquest and quashed its open verdict.

Judge Thornton said “the discovery of new facts or evidence” made “a fresh investigation including a fresh inquest necessary or desirable in the interests of justice”.

Pte James was undergoing initial training at Deepcut when she was found dead with a bullet wound between her right eye and the bridge of her nose.

Her parents, Des and Doreen James, applied through human rights campaign group Liberty for a new inquest after the Human Rights Act was used to secure access to documents held by the authorities about the teenager’s death.

Mr and Mrs James said they were delighted to have a fresh inquest but added that “a meaningful inquiry into Cheryl’s death is almost 20 years late”.

They said in a statement: “When young people die in violent circumstances, a rigorous and transparent investigation should be automatic. Something went dreadfully wrong at Deepcut yet until now no one has bothered to look at how and why our daughter died.

“We can only hope that Cheryl’s legacy helps change the current ineffective and discredited military justice system.”

Liberty solicitor Emma Norton, who represented the couple, said: “Cheryl’s family refused to let her death be swept under the carpet but they’ve had to fight at every stage for answers in the face of a state that thought it could ignore the basic human rights of its troops.

“Cheryl was preparing for a life of service and deserved so much better – her family can now hope to finally get some answers.”

See also here.

A 20-year-old Muslim Marine recruit, Raheel Siddiqui, jumped three stories to his death on March 18, 2016 after suffering repeated abuse by officers at the Parris Island base in South Carolina. Siddiqui’s death is one of dozens of cases of officer abuse that have emerged at Parris Island alone. Across the country, officers of the various branches of the US armed forces systematically abuse young recruits, the overwhelming majority of whom, like Siddiqui, come from working-class families: here.

10 thoughts on “Death of bullied British soldier, new inquest

  1. Pingback: British governmental militarisation of children | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Tuesday 2nd February 2016

    posted by Lamiat Sabin in Britain

    A TEENAGE soldier shot dead at an army barracks more than 20 years ago may have been sexually abused, a coroner said at an inquest yesterday.

    Brian Barker QC said new evidence that emerged last month suggests that senior officers may have sexually exploited 18-year-old Private Cheryl James before she died in 1995.

    The young woman from north Wales was found with a gunshot wound between her right eye and nose at the Deepcut Barracks in Surrey.

    Pvt James — who was undergoing initial training — was one of four recruits that died between 1995 and 2002 at the barracks blighted by abuse and bullying allegations.

    Sean Benton, James Collinson and Geoff Gray also died from gunshot wounds.

    Mr Barker told Woking coroner’s court that a seven-week inquest — with more than 100 witnesses — would investigate sexual assault allegations in Pvt James’s case but will not consider whether there was “a wider culture of sexual abuse.”

    The inquest will address whether there were “shortcomings” with barracks policies on sexual behaviour, supervision of young women, drugs, alcohol and accommodation.

    Pvt James’s father Des said he wanted “justice” for all the soldiers who had died.

    “We know the culture at the camp was out of control. There was a drug and alcohol culture,” he said.

    “The bottom line is a culture was created at the camp which contributed to the death of four people.”

    At least 10 witnesses have come forward with allegations of a culture of sexual exploitation at Deepcut, according to human rights organisation Liberty, which is representing the family.


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  6. Saturday 22nd July 207

    by Felicity Collier

    RELATIVES of a young soldier who died at Deepcut barracks won the right yesterday to apply to the High Court for a new inquest on the basis of new evidence.

    Seventeen-year-old Private Geoff Gray was found with two gunshot wounds to his head on September 17 2001.

    He was one of four young soldiers to die of gunshot wounds between 1995 and 2002 at the barracks in Surrey that is known for having had a culture of bullying and sexual harassment. A coroner recorded an open verdict in March 2002.

    But Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC said that there is material evidence available for this case that was not put before the previous inquest in 2001.

    “I believe that it is in the interests of justice for the application for a new inquest to be heard by the High Court,” he said.

    A new inquest can only be ordered by the High Court on an application made by the Attorney General or with his consent.

    Last year, a High Court judge gave the go-ahead for a fresh inquest into the death of Private Sean Benton, expected to take place at Surrey Coroner’s Court in Woking from January 24 next year.

    He was found with five bullet wounds to his chest in June 1995 during military training.

    In June, a second inquest into the death of 18-year-old Private Cheryl James recorded that in November 1995 she had shot herself.

    At the first inquest, Judge Brian Barker QC said the army can be an extremely negative environment, especially at Deepcut barracks.


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