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Deepcut inquest: Father of private found dead was warned by soldiers ‘it could be one of us next’ | UK News

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The father of a teenager found dead with gunshot wounds at Deepcut barracks was told by fellow soldiers “don’t let this lie, it could be one of us next”, an inquest has heard.

The family of 17-year-old Private Geoff Gray have claimed the teenager was murdered, after a fresh inquest was opened into his death.

Pte Gray, from Hackney in east London, was shot dead on 17 September 2001 after he had been on guard duty at the Surrey base.

An inquest into his death in 2002 recorded an open verdict, meaning that the death was suspicious but the jury could not find enough evidence for another verdict.

Deepcut inquest
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Pte Cheryl James, 18, also died at the Princess Royal Barracks

The new inquest was approved after fresh evidence came to light, and the coroner was told the main issue was “simply who pulled the trigger”.

Four young soldiers, including Pte Gray, died at Princess Royal Barracks between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse.

Privates Sean Benton, 20, Cheryl James, 18, and James Collinson, 17, all died from gunshot wounds.

Pte Gray’s father, also called Geoff, told the inquest he had been warned by other soldiers at his son’s funeral “it could be one of us next”.

Deepcut Barracks
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Deepcut barracks is now the subject of a criminal investigation into a number of allegations

He said soldiers approached him to say “they had passed the spot where (Pte Gray) was eventually found and he was not there”.

Mr Gray told the hearing at Woking Coroner’s Court that the recruits appeared “uncomfortable” and unable to speak freely as there “always seemed to be an officer within earshot”.

A lawyer for the family said another trainee may have been responsible for the teenager’s death.

A former senior detective who investigated the deaths of Pte Gray and Pte Collinson previously told ITV News he felt “pressured” to conclude the deaths were suicides.

He said there was a “nagging doubt” at the back of his mind during the investigation.

Private Sean Benton
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A second inquest was launched into the death of Pte Sean Benton last year

Second inquests into the deaths of Pte Cheryl James and Pte Sean Benton concluded the young soldiers had killed themselves, following alleged bullying and abuse at the barracks.

The parents of Pte Gray said he was a keen skater, runner and amateur DJ and had “no depression” or money or girl troubles.

Mr Gray said he had last seen his son around two weeks before his death – Pte Gray had just passed his driving test and was “living his dream”.

He said: “The next time I saw him was on a marble slab and I was asking him ‘who’s given you the black eye, bonny lad?'”

Coroner Peter Rook QC said the new inquest will be a “full, thorough and fresh investigation”, however Pte Gray’s mother expressed concerns it would bring any answers.

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

Surrey Police has also said a criminal investigation has been launched into a “number of allegations”, including assault, at Deepcut barracks following the inquest into Pte Sean Benton’s death last year.

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