Deepcut soldier could have died at hands of another, hears pre-inquest review

Geoff Gray, who was on duty at the Deepcut Barracks when he was found dead.
Geoff Gray, who was on duty at the Deepcut Barracks when he was found dead.

Another trainee could have “pulled the trigger” on a teenage soldier who was shot dead at Deepcut barracks, a lawyer for his family said.

Private Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, was found with two gunshot wounds to his head on September 17, 2001.

Private Geoff Gray's parents, Diane and Geoff.

Private Geoff Gray's parents, Diane and Geoff.

His parents Geoff senior and Diane Gray were in attendance at a pre-inquest hearing, which was held at the Old Bailey in London.

John Cooper QC, representing the family, told the hearing that the main issue was “simply who pulled the trigger”.

He said that there was evidence of “systemic failings” at the barracks and allegations of a “lack of procedure and lack of protection for these young recruits”.

He added that some trainees were “treated with a degree of favour” and were allowed off site to consume alcohol in “drinking dens” before returning to the barracks.

Here there is potentially a situation where another trainee pulled the trigger on Mr Gray.

John Cooper QC

“With the problems drink brings there may be a problem there,” Mr Cooper said.

“Here there is potentially a situation where another trainee pulled the trigger on Mr Gray,” he added.

“There is a degree here of state involvement given that the trainee was, and could be argued to be, connected to the state - a trainee of the armed forces.”

Coroner Peter Rook QC rejected an application on behalf of Pte Gray’s family to have a jury inquest.

Private Geoff Gray, who died at Deepcut barracks in 2001.

Private Geoff Gray, who died at Deepcut barracks in 2001.

“In my view a reasoned decision and reasoned findings of fact by a coroner sitting alone will be in the best interests of the interested parties and the public,” he added.

A pre-inquest hearing will take place on Friday, October 5, at Woking Coroner’s Court to discuss witnesses in the case.

The full inquest is due to take place in Woking on Tuesday, February 26, and 60 live witnesses are due to give evidence to the coroner.

In 2002, a coroner recorded an open verdict, which did not include a narrative conclusion.

Last summer, the Gray family won the right to apply to the High Court for a new inquest after Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC said he was satisfied fresh evidence had come to light.

Pte Gray was one of four soldiers to die at Deepcut between 1995 and 2002.

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