Female recruits at Deepcut told to 'keep mouths shut' after body found


Female recruits at Deepcut barracks were told to "keep their mouths shut" after the body of a young soldier was found, an inquest has heard.

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

Claire Barnett said a group of female recruits had gathered in a communal area to comfort each other following Pte James's death when Sergeant Andrew Gavaghan "waltzed" into the room.

The inquest has previously heard claims that Sgt Gavaghan ordered Pte James to have sex with another soldier the night before she died.

Ms Barnett told Woking Coroner's Court: "He (Sgt Gavaghan) came in the room and the way he came in - I would say - he just strolled in.

"He just looked as if nothing had happened, in my personal opinion.

"He asked 'how is everyone doing? Is everyone all right?' Which I thought was pretty stupid at the time.

"People in the room were wrapped in duvets.

"He just waltzed in, strolled over to the window and looked out of the window with his hands behind his back."

Ms Barnett said the women were told not to talk to the press or the police.

She said: "We all came together outside and were basically told 'keep your mouths shut. Don't speak to anyone'. Words to that effect.

"We weren't allowed off camp and no one was allowed on."

Ms Barnett, who said she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sat beside her husband during her evidence, told the inquest she spoke briefly to Pte James on the morning of her death.

She said: "I saw in her eyes that something was not right. That something was wrong. I didn't get a chance to press it.

"It was two or three seconds then it was gone."