Soldier who died at Deepcut barracks told sister he was 'shackled', inquest told


A young soldier who died at the notorious Deepcut army barracks told his sister he was "shackled" and "humiliated" at the base, a fresh inquest heard.

Private Sean Benton, 20, was found with five bullets in his chest in June 1995, shortly after he had been told he was to be discharged from the army.

He was the first of four young soldiers to die of gunshot wounds at the Surrey barracks between 1995 and 2002, and a fresh inquest into his death began at Woking Coroner's Court on Wednesday.

Sean Benton with his parents
Private Sean Benton with his parents Linda and Harry (Family handout/PA)

The inquest heard that Pte Benton told his sister in the month of March before his death that he was "jailed" at the base for 10 days.

The detention period is understood to have been a punishment for breaking a window.

Tracy Lewis, who attended the hearing with Pte Benton's twin brother Tony, told the inquest that she was surprised to see her brother at their cousin's house on a Thursday, as it would usually be Friday when he would leave the base.

"I was surprised that he turned up and I think he was shocked that I was there.

"He stayed with my cousin that night and then he came round to see me on the Friday," she said.

Ms Lewis said he told her that he had "been in jail for 10 days", and also said that he was "shackled".

"He used that word," she said, referring to "shackled", adding: "He was made to parade around the canteen which embarrassed him and he felt really humiliated."

Asked if he had told her he felt humiliated, she said: "Yes."

Private Sean Benton who died at Deepcut army barracks
Private Sean Benton who died at Deepcut army barracks (Family handout/PA)

Pte Benton's family have campaigned for years for a full investigation into his death amid allegations he suffered prolonged physical and psychological bullying.

A Royal Military Police investigation led to an initial inquest finding of suicide in 1995, even though no evidence was given about his experiences at Deepcut.

Ms Lewis and Tony Benton, represented by Liberty, applied for a second inquest in July 2015, which was granted last year.