Deepcut families await outcome of inquest as their own fight continues

The family of an army recruit shot dead at his barracks are preparing to launch an application to overturn his inquest verdict as they await news of the hearing into another private's death.

Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 5:00 am
Private Geoff Gray, pictured in a photograph released by his parents.

A second inquest into the circumstances of Pte Cheryl James’s death at Deepcut Barracks is due tomorrow after her family fought for a new hearing.

The 18-year-old, who was found with a bullet wound to her head in November 1995, was one of four soldiers who died at the Surrey barracks between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse.

Diane and Geoff Gray.

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The new inquest is due to end at Woking Coroner’s Court on Friday.

Pte Geoff Gray, who was born in Seaham, was 17 when his body was discovered at the same Deepcut camp in 2001.

His parents Geoff, 52, and Diane, 51, have never believed the Army’s conclusion that he took his own life, while an inquest returned an open verdict.

They, alongside the families Pte James and two others who also died in suspicious circumstances at the base, have fought for a public inquiry into the cases and also hope for new inquests for each one.

Diane and Geoff Gray.

Pte Gray’s family say with the help of a legal team, they have found new information after shifting through thousands of documents released by the police.

They are preparing to apply to have the first verdict overturned and then submit the case for a new hearing.

A documentary, Deepcut: The Army’s Shame, will be screened on BBC Two at 9pm tomorrow.

Its makers, who have previously worked on Panorama, promise the feature will include interviews with former soldiers who served at the barracks during the same period and will speak about life behind the barbed wire, its culture of bullying, physical and sexual abuse.

Diane, also mum to Adam, 25, has been attending Pte James’s hearing as often as she could - the first inquest recorded an open verdict.

She said: “I’m going to go to the hearing on Friday.

“I didn’t know how long it would last, whether it was weeks or months, and now I don’t know what to feel or think about the verdict.

“I hope the coroner gives an outcome the family want, it’s what they deserve.

“We’re in the process now, where the police have given us all the information and we’ve gone through it and the solicitor says we can appeal to have the original inquest overturned.

“It’s all on the basis of the Human Rights Act. You have a right to life and if life is extinct, then you have the right to have that investigated properly.”

The Grays are being helped by John Cooper QC, who has offered to support them without charge, while the other families, including the parents of Pte Sean Benton and Pte James Collinson, have been helped by Liberty.