Deepcut recruit Pte Sean Benton 'singled out and punished'

Sean Benton Image copyright PA
Image caption Pte Sean Benton died at Deepcut in 1995 from five gunshot wounds

An Army recruit who died at Deepcut barracks from five bullet wounds to the chest was constantly punished and had a changed personality before his death, a former soldier has said.

An inquest found Pte Sean Benton killed himself although his family are applying for a fresh hearing.

Ex-soldier Stewart Thompson has said Pte Benton was singled out and bullied.

He said the 20-year-old from Hastings ended up stuttering and nervous in the seven months he trained alongside him.

Mr Thompson said he disputed conclusions in a report in 2006 by Nicholas Blake QC that four recruits who died from gunshot wounds were not "bullied to death".

Last month, at the end of a second inquest into the death of Pte Cheryl James, coroner Brian Barker said she killed herself.

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Media captionFormer soldier Stewart Thompson was at Deepcut with Pte Sean Benton

Speaking to the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire show, Mr Thompson said: "He [Pte Benton] was constantly, constantly punished, often for no reason."

The former ammunitions supply specialist who served in Bosnia said: "His reputation preceded him. You could often see him walking across a field or running across a field with an instructor shouting behind him."

Mr Thompson added: "I spoke to him in the cookhouse during breakfast maybe five or six weeks before his death and he was a completely different person.

"He was stuttering his speech. He was nervous."

Mr Thompson said he had an exemplary military career - but six years after training at Deepcut suffered a breakdown.

He said teenage recruits physically hid from instructors at Deepcut, under beds, or above ceiling rafters, or they asked friends to padlock them into cupboards.

Punishments he witnessed included recruits being put on parade in the early hours and physically hit, he said.

"The instructors singled out people. They did it privately. They did it in rooms. They did it when often a lot of people weren't there," he added.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Thompson described Deepcut as "completely chaotic"

The recruits had all had systematic, basic training at Pirbright, but at Deepcut they were washing clothes, peeling potatoes, cutting grass, cleaning rifles, carrying out guard duty and physical training and going on parade, he said.

"It was completely chaotic and psychologically it was tiring," he added.

He said recruits were part of a "brutal and unaccountable" regime and were either pushed to leave the Army or "improve their own personal issues".

He said he backed calls for a public inquiry.

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