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Private Sean Benton, 20, was found with five bullets in his chest at the Surrey base in June 1995

Personal Sean Benton, 20, was discovered with 5 bullets in his chest on the Surrey base in June 1995

A soldier killed himself at Deepcut Barracks with ‘self inflicted’ gunshot wounds to the chest, a coroner has dominated at present.

Personal Sean Benton, 20, was discovered with 5 bullets in his chest on the Surrey base in June 1995, shortly after he had been instructed he was to be discharged from the army.

He was the primary of 4 troopers to have died there between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse. 

Privates Cheryl James, James Collinson and Geoff Grey additionally died from gunshot wounds at Deepcut. They turned often called the ‘Deepcut 4.’ 

Coroner Peter Rook at present recorded a verdict of suicide as he blasted a police probe into the demise and added there was ‘ample proof’ to these at Deepcut that Pte Benton was ‘susceptible’.

He earlier stated he was lacking important proof due to the ‘woeful’ Surrey Police investigation which solely started in earnest seven years after Pte Benton’s demise. 

Mr Rook stated: ‘I am happy that the deadly wounds have been self inflicted.’

He stated the primary spherical injured the soldier, however {that a} second spherical – fired by Pte Benton when two officers arrived on the scene – proved deadly.

Notes to his family and friends have been discovered afterwards.

Earlier he blasted the police investigation, saying: ‘The forensic proof that might have existed to light up what occurred was not gathered,’ he stated.

‘There have been as many as 9 elementary failures. The forensic proof accessible to me was woeful. These have been Surrey Police’s shortcomings.

‘It’s clear the rumours about Sean’s demise have been many and assorted. Some issues weren’t raised till the Surrey Police investigation in 2002 and 2003.’

Private Benton's twin brother, Tony Benton arriving at the hearing today

Sister Tracy Lewis (right) who has been fighting for a fresh inquest

Personal Benton’s twin brother, Tony Benton (left) and sister Tracy Lewis (proper) arrive on the listening to at present. They’ve been combating on his behalf for years following their mom Linda’s demise in Could 2015

He added: ‘Even by the requirements of 1995, the investigation into Sean’s demise was woefully insufficient.

‘My very own investigation has been vastly hindered by the inadequacies of the unique investigation.’  

The coroner highlighted a specific failure from senior Deepcut officers which allowed Pte Benton entry to the weaponry that ended his life.

He stated: ‘I discover it extra possible than not that had satisfactory precaution been taken and the guard been instructed that Sean was banned from weapons, he wouldn’t have killed himself the best way he did that day.’ 

The inquest heard Pte Benton carried out a number of ‘insubordinations’ within the week earlier than his demise, together with threatening to shoot a senior officer and getting right into a drunken scrap.

It was subsequently determined that Pte Benton could be discharged from the Military, prompting considerations from witnesses that the younger soldier was troubled about his future prospects.

A number of witnesses stated Pte Benton was instructed he couldn’t go on sentry obligation on June 8, the evening earlier than he died, however had apparently pleaded to swap with a number of trainees – one thing that might have given him entry to weapons.

The coroner stated it ‘appeared probably’ that Pte Benton ‘tried to entry a weapon’ by providing to tackle the obligation.

The listening to was instructed within the early hours of June 9 1995, Pte Benton – wearing full army clothes – approached two juniors on guard obligation and instructed them one in all them was required to talk with a senior, and that he was wanted to alleviate her.

The guard did so, having no cause to disbelieve her colleague.

The coroner stated: ‘It’s clear Sean devised a rigorously deliberate ruse to trick the guard into handing over the weapon.’

Private Benton is pictured with his parents before his death aged 20 in June 1995

Personal Benton is pictured along with his dad and mom earlier than his demise aged 20 in June 1995

Pte Benton stated he would then go on solo patrol – gun pictures have been heard a short while later, the coroner stated.

The coroner stated he didn’t consider two officers who have been on the scene when Pte Benton shot himself had themselves fired pictures on the younger soldier.

Mr Rook added that the soldier had severe chest accidents and ‘requested for his mom’ within the moments earlier than he died. 

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The coroner described a litany of failures with the unique investigation into Pte Benton’s demise.

He stated he was hampered by a failure to protect proof, poor images of the scene and an absence of scrutiny of eyewitness accounts, amongst different issues.

He stated: ‘Even by the requirements of 1995, the investigation into Sean’s demise was woefully insufficient.

‘My very own investigation has been vastly hindered by the inadequacies of the unique investigation.’ 

The coroner described how the behaviour of 1 officer particularly, Sergeant Andrew Gavaghan, was key to the investigation into Pte Benton’s demise.

It follows proof from witnesses that Sgt Gavaghan had been ‘terrifying’ to juniors, liable to a lack of mood and bodily violence.

However, in a chorus of his opening remarks concerning the military, Mr Rook stated: ‘That is an inquest, not a trial of Sgt Gavaghan.’

The court docket heard Sgt Gavaghan had an ‘alter ego’ and was liable to wild modifications in his mood.

Mr Rook stated: ‘Allegations weren’t restricted to earlier than Sean’s demise, however concerned bodily and psychological abuse.

‘Sgt Gavaghan gave clear proof denying such conduct.’

During the course of the inquest, the coroner has heard evidence of bullying and abuse at the barracks

Throughout the course of the inquest, the coroner has heard proof of bullying and abuse on the barracks

The coroner stated he was happy Sgt Gavaghan punched and kicked some trainees, abusing his energy to take action.

Mr Rook added: ‘What made Sgt Gavaghan notably memorable was his use of a administration software – play-acting his ‘twin brother’.

‘What was placing from the proof was Sgt Gavaghan’s change of persona from good one second to scary the subsequent.’

He added: ‘At occasions he did lose management of himself.’

Mr Rook stated Sgt Gavaghan was not the one senior officer to punish trainees, including that there have been others who spoke favourably of him.

The coroner stated: ‘Not all witnesses spoke ailing of Sgt Gavaghan… he was clearly a person of two sides.

‘However a more in-depth examine ought to have been made on Sgt Gavaghan’s [treatment] of the trainees.

‘It is clear this lack of acceptable monitoring contributed to his abuse of authority.’

The coroner described how Pte Benton took a painkiller overdose after failing his army driver coaching.

Mr Rook stated medics who handled the soldier described his actions as a ‘cry for assist’ after turning into ‘fed-up’ and ‘wished a little bit of consideration’.

The coroner stated specialists who studied Pte Benton’s data discovered he ‘had an evolving character dysfunction’, signs of which included alcohol misuse, self-harm and harmful behaviour.

Brigadier Christopher Coles, the head of the army personnel services group, who was not involved in the command of Deepcut, arrives at the hearing today

Brigadier Christopher Coles, the pinnacle of the military personnel providers group, who was not concerned within the command of Deepcut, arrives on the listening to at present

An preliminary inquest in July 1995 into Pte Benton’s demise, only a month after he died recorded a verdict of suicide.

Nevertheless, no proof was given about his experiences at Deepcut.

Pte Benton’s household campaigned for years for a full investigation into his demise amid allegations he suffered extended bodily and psychological bullying with witnesses telling the inquest he was ‘humiliated.’

The allegations included claims he was shackled and pushed out of a window.

His mom Linda died in 2015, having by no means found the reality about what occurred to her son.

Nevertheless, the household’s bid for justice continued and so they have been final yr granted a second inquest into the demise, which has been held at Woking Coroner’s Court docket since January.

In his opening remarks, Mr Rook praised the witnesses who gave proof, together with Pte Benson’s household.

His twin brother, Tony Benton, and sister Tracy have been combating on his behalf for years following their mom Linda’s demise in Could 2015.

Coroner Peter Rook instructed the court docket: ‘Sean’s older sister Tracy Lewis and brother Tony Benton have carried on their dad and mom’ legacy.

‘Their dad and mom have good cause to be happy with all their kids.’

Their father died in 2011. The coroner additionally admitted there have been evidential difficulties with holding an inquest 23 years after the soldier’s demise.

He stated: ‘Reminiscences fade in time.

‘Some witnesses have died and a few haven’t been traced.’

The coroner stated the inquest was ‘not an inquiry into the Military on the time’ of Pte Benton’s demise, which he stated got here throughout a ‘interval of change for the army following the autumn of the Berlin Wall’.

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Exploring Pte Benton’s formative years, the coroner repeated proof of how a teenage Sean twice took medication overdoses in 1991.

The primary incident was seen as a ‘cry for assist’. He took a second overdose a fortnight later, though a psychiatrist stated there have been no main causes for alarm.

Referencing proof about his time at Deepcut, the coroner stated the younger soldier was described by colleagues as ‘cocksure’ and ‘likeable’, though he had run-ins with senior workers.

The coroner stated: ‘There isn’t any doubt Sean was a fascinating character.’

Throughout the course of the inquest, the coroner heard proof of bullying and abuse on the barracks.

Former Deepcut soldier Amanda Maxted-Blain stated she recalled Pte Benton, initially from Hastings, being punched by an teacher then kicked as he lay helpless on the bottom, in addition to going through verbal abuse and being ‘humiliated’.

Tracey Lewis (pictured with Sean's twin brother Tony in January 2018) told the court he had been 'jailed' for 10 days for breaking a window, 'shackled, made to parade around the canteen...embarrassed and humiliated'

Tracey Lewis (pictured with Sean’s twin brother Tony in January 2018) instructed the court docket he had been ‘jailed’ for 10 days for breaking a window, ‘shackled, made to parade across the canteen…embarrassed and humiliated’

Benton was the first of four soldiers to have died there between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse. Privates Cheryl James (right) James Collinson (left) and Geoff Gray (centre) also died from gunshot wounds

Benton was the primary of 4 troopers to have died there between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse. Privates Cheryl James (proper) James Collinson (left) and Geoff Grey (centre) additionally died from gunshot wounds

One other colleague, lance corporal Terri Lewis, stated instructed the listening to Pte Benton confided in her that he felt ‘bullied, that he was being singled out, that he was being picked on’.

However retired Brigadier Paul Evans, who was in general command of Deepcut from 1993 to 1996, instructed the inquest he could be ‘completely horrified’ to be taught trainees have been critically bullied on his watch, and stated he was not conscious of any mistreatment of troopers.

Pte Benton’s sister, Tracy Lewis, stated earlier than the coroner’s ruling: ‘This inquest has uncovered a lot about what Sean’s life at Deepcut was like.

‘It is terrible to think about what he may need been by, however I am grateful to all those that gave proof to assist reply questions my household has been asking for 23 years.

Private Benton's inquest has been held at Woking Coroner's Court since January

Personal Benton’s inquest has been held at Woking Coroner’s Court docket since January

‘This course of has revealed simply how elementary the issues within the first investigation have been, and the way proper my mum was to maintain combating for the reality. The Military, the primary coroner and Surrey Police let my household down terribly.’

Emma Norton, head of authorized casework at Liberty and solicitor for the Benton household, stated earlier than at present’s listening to: ‘No matter conclusions the coroner reaches, the Military should replicate actually and unflinchingly – not solely on what occurred in 1995 – however on the intense failings that also exist within the Armed Forces’ inner justice system, 20 years on.

‘When issues go fallacious, troopers want an unbiased physique to show to proper from the outset. And the Military have to be extra open to unbiased investigations by civilian police.

‘The Military has nothing to concern from higher exterior oversight. With out that we can not make sure that different households will not should spend a long time combating for solutions, as Sean’s have.’  

Deepcut: A timeline of key occasions

April 1993: The Royal Barracks, Deepcut, an Military base since round 1900, turns into the house of the newly fashioned Royal Logistic Corps.

June 1995: Sean Benton is discovered useless with 5 gunshot wounds. The next month an inquest data a verdict of suicide.

November 1995: Cheryl James is discovered useless

December 1995: The inquest into Pte James’s demise data an open verdict

September 2001: Geoff Grey is discovered useless

March 2002: An inquest into Pte Grey’s demise data an open verdict

March 2002: James Collinson is discovered useless

Deepcut army barracks in Surrey which has been at the centre of allegations of bullying and abuse

Deepcut military barracks in Surrey which has been on the centre of allegations of bullying and abuse

April 2002: Surrey Police launch a joint investigation into the deaths of Pte Grey and Pte Collinson. The pressure later confirms it is usually reviewing the deaths of Pte James and Pte Benton

June 2002: Households of the 4 troopers name for a public inquiry 

September 2003: Surrey Police concludes there are not any grounds for prosecutions over the deaths of the 4 younger troopers

Could 2004: The federal government rejects requires a public inquiry into the troopers’ deaths

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October 2004 New allegations emerge of gang rape, systematic bullying and sexual harassment at Deepcut emerge in a police report. The federal government pronounces a evaluate of the allegation led by Nicholas Blake QC, however does not order a full public inquiry.

March 2006: The inquest jury trying into the demise of Pte Collinson returns an open verdict

March 2006: The Blake Evaluate criticises Military coaching, citing ‘harassment, discrimination and oppressive behaviour’, however concludes that the deaths have been in all probability self-inflicted.

Could 2009: The federal government once more rejects requires a public inquiry

March 2011: A evaluate by Devon and Cornwall Police discovered Surrey Police failed to research absolutely a possible suspect, often called the ‘unknown white male’, within the demise of Pte James  

July 2014: Excessive Court docket judges order a contemporary inquest into the demise of Pte James 

June 2016: The second inquest into Pte James’s demise discovered the gunshot wound to her head was self-inflicted and intentional, and her demise was suicide

October 2016: A Excessive Court docket decide guidelines a contemporary inquest can happen into the demise of Pte Benton

November 2017: The household of Pte Grey win Excessive Court docket motion for a contemporary inquest

January 2018: A contemporary inquest begins at Woking Coroner’s Court docket into the demise of Pte Benton

Personal Cheryl James

Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, in north Wales was discovered with a bullet through her forehead

Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, in north Wales was found with a bullet by her brow

Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, in north Wales was found with a bullet by her brow in woodland exterior the barracks in November 1995.

An inquest into her demise within the December of that yr recorded an open verdict.

Nevertheless that verdict was quashed by the Excessive Court docket and a second inquest was held in 2016, when a coroner dominated she died from a ‘self inflicted’ gunshot wound and her demise was suicide.

The coroner dominated there was a ‘sexualised’ ambiance on the barracks and there have been far too few officer to take care of the younger troopers. 

However her father Des James stated they have been ‘deeply saddened’ by the conclusions of the inquest.

He stated: ‘The proof has revealed severe and profound failures within the care and supervision that must have been supplied to her, and to the entire different younger individuals who joined the British military along with her.’ 

Personal Geoff Grey

Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, County Durham, was found with two gunshot wounds to his head while he was on guard duty in 2001

Geoff Grey, 17, from Seaham, County Durham, was discovered with two gunshot wounds to his head whereas he was on guard obligation in 2001

Geoff Grey, 17, from Seaham, County Durham, was discovered with two gunshot wounds to his head whereas he was on guard obligation in 2001. 

The Military stated he killed himself however an inquest returned an open verdict. 

After his demise studies emerged of a determine seen operating away from the realm and there have been claims his physique was moved. 

His dad and mom don’t consider he killed himself and instructed how he ‘couldn’t have been at a greater time in his life.’

Final yr, the soldier’s household gained a Excessive Court docket motion demanding a contemporary inquest.

After the listening to, Pte Grey’s mom, Diane Grey welcomed the ruling she stated the household had ‘been ready on for therefore lengthy’.

She stated: ‘Our son died in Deepcut in 2001 and there was at greatest a cursory inquest in 2002.

‘This time we hope there will probably be a full and significant inquest into his demise.  

Personal James Collinson 

Private James Collinson, 17, from Perth, was found with a single gunshot wound through his chin while on guard duty in 2002

Personal James Collinson, 17, from Perth, was discovered with a single gunshot wound by his chin whereas on guard obligation in 2002

Personal James Collinson, 17, from Perth, was discovered with a single gunshot wound by his chin whereas on guard obligation in 2002. 

As soon as once more, the Military stated he had killed himself and an inquest returned an open verdict. 

His dad and mom stated he had no cause to kill himself, saying he was proud of life. 

Pte Collinson’s mom, Yvonne Heath, stated: ‘I do not consider that my son pulled that set off however on the similar level I do not consider anybody wished him useless.

Over time, Mr Collinson’s household have made repeated requests for a public inquiry.

Human rights group Liberty have stated work is constant to get a contemporary inquest.  

 

 



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