Father of Deepcut death soldier Cheryl James to give evidence at inquest


The father of a young soldier who was found dead at an army barracks more than 20 years ago is due to give evidence at the second inquest into her death.

Private Cheryl James, 18, was discovered with a fatal bullet wound at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in November 1995 - one of four recruits to die there over a seven-year period.

Her father Des, 66, is due to appear as a witness at the inquest which will examine new evidence suggesting she may have been sexually exploited by senior ranks shortly before her death.

But coroner Brian Barker QC has said he will not consider claims of a "wider culture of sexual abuse" at Deepcut after at least 10 witnesses had come forward with allegations.

"This is not a public inquiry into the culture at Deepcut in mid-1990s," Mr Barker told a hearing last week.

"This inquest should be a full, frank and fearless investigation into Cheryl's death, but it does not mean the scope is unlimited."

Speaking ahead of the start of the inquest, Mr James said he hoped for "justice" for his daughter and the other young soldiers who died at Deepcut.

He told the Press Association: "We know the culture at the camp was out of control. There was a drug and alcohol culture.

"We have to get to the bottom of what happened. I want justice for all four of them."

Pte James, from Llangollen in North Wales, was undergoing initial training when she was found dead with a bullet wound between her right eye and the bridge of her nose in November 1995.

Privates Sean Benton, 20, James Collinson, 17, and Geoff Gray, 17, also died from gunshot wounds at Deepcut between 1995 and 2002.

In 2014, High Court judges ordered a fresh inquest into Pte James's death after they quashed an open verdict recorded in December 1995. Her body was exhumed in August and a post-mortem examination was carried out by two experts.

In total, more than 100 witnesses are expected to give evidence at the new inquest which will consider whether a third party was involved in Pte James's death and what happened on the evening before she died.

It will also address whether there were "shortcomings" with barracks policies on sexual behaviour, supervision of young females, drugs, alcohol and accommodation.

The inquest at Woking Coroner's Court in Surrey was due to start last week but it was delayed to allow new forensic and scientific evidence to be reviewed by the interested parties, including Pte James's family, Surrey Police and the Ministry of Defence.