Deepcut inquest: Geoff Gray's father says soldiers warned him 'it could be us next'

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.

Fellow soldiers told the father of a teenager shot dead at Deepcut barracks "don't let this lie, it could be one of us next", an inquest has heard.

Private Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, was found with two gunshot wounds to his head on September 17 2001 after he had been on guard duty at the Surrey base.

Private Geoff Gray's parents, Diane and Geoff

Private Geoff Gray's parents, Diane and Geoff

His father, also called Geoff, told a fresh inquest into his son's death he was approached at the funeral by soldiers who said "they had passed the spot where he was eventually found and he was not there".

Wearing a suit and glasses and sitting in front of a picture of his son in uniform, Mr Gray told the hearing at Woking Coroner's Court on Tuesday: "One or two of them said they had searched for Geoff and he wasn't there."

Mr Gray said the recruits looked "uncomfortable" and appeared unable to speak freely as there "always seemed to be an officer within earshot".

In a previous statement Mr Gray said other soldiers had warned him "don't let this lie, it could be one of us next", the inquest heard.

The inquest is expected to run until early May.

The inquest is expected to run until early May.

Read more: Death of Deepcut soldiers could be linked to 'criminal or reckless' acts, pre-inquest hearing told

A statement read on behalf of Pte Gray's mother Diane said: "My son blossomed into a man I was proud of. I feel I have been robbed of seeing our son grow up.

"Geoff signed up to serve our country. It's about time our country served him and let the truth be told."

Mr Gray said his son had been at home around two weeks before his death and was "living the dream" and had "no depression" or money or girl troubles.

In 2002, a coroner recorded an open verdict in the first inquest into the death of Pte Gray.

The new inquest is happening because Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC said he was satisfied fresh evidence had come to light.

Opening the hearing, coroner Peter Rook QC said: "The relevant facts will be investigated again. I stress this will be a full, thorough and fresh investigation."

At a pre-inquest hearing last year Mr Rook was told the main issue was "simply who pulled the trigger".

Another trainee may have been responsible, John Cooper QC, representing the family, told the pre-inquest hearing.

He added 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".

The inquest, which does not have a jury, is expected to hear from 91 witnesses and is listed to last until early May.

Pte Gray was one of four young soldiers to die at Princess Royal Barracks, Deepcut, between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse.

Privates Sean Benton, 20, Cheryl James, 18, and James Collinson, 17, also died from gunshot wounds at the base.

Surrey Police said officers launched a new criminal investigation into allegations including assault and misconduct in public office at the barracks after the conclusion of Pte Benton's inquest last year.