Deepcut: Family of Pte Geoff Gray win case for fresh inquest

Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, County Durham Image copyright PA
Image caption Pte Geoff Gray was found with two gunshot wounds to his head while on guard duty in 2001

The family of a young soldier who died at the Deepcut army barracks 16 years ago have won a High Court action for a fresh inquest.

Pte Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, County Durham, was found with two gunshot wounds to his head in 2001.

The Army said he killed himself but an inquest in 2002 gave an open verdict.

On Tuesday, three judges sitting at the High Court ruled it was "necessary or desirable in the interests of justice" for a fresh inquest to be held.

Lord Justice Bean, Mrs Justice Carr and Judge Mark Lucraft ordered the inquest in 2002 should be quashed with its verdict and findings.

Lord Justice Bean said the scope of the new inquest "and the issue of whether the coroner should, or should not, sit with a jury, should be a matter for the coroner".

'Time for truth'

After the hearing, Pte Gray's mother, Diane Gray welcomed the ruling she said the family had "been waiting on for so long".

She said: "Our son died in Deepcut in 2001 and there was at best a cursory inquest in 2002.

"This time we hope there will be a full and meaningful inquest into his death.

"He was 17 years old and died serving his country. It's time his country served him and the truth be told."

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Lord Justice Bean said the coroner had taken no active part in the application.

He added that correspondence had indicated the Ministry of Defence "do not wish to contest an order for a fresh inquest".

He said three possible grounds had been put forward for a fresh hearing, which were insufficiency of inquiry, procedural irregularity and "the fact that a substantial volume of new evidence has become available".

Image copyright PA
Image caption (L-R) Privates Sean Benton, Cheryl James, Geoff Gray and James Collinson died between 1995 and 2002 at Deepcut Army Barracks

Pte Gray's family won the right to apply to the High Court for a fresh inquest after Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC agreed new evidence had come to light.

The ruling comes after a judge gave the go-ahead for a fresh inquest into the death of Pte Sean Benton, 20, from Hastings in East Sussex.

He was found with five bullet wounds to his chest at the Surrey barracks in 1995.

His inquest is due to take place at Surrey Coroner's Court, in Woking, next year.

Pte Benton was the first of four soldiers to die of gunshot wounds at the barracks between 1995 and 2002.

Pte Cheryl James, 18, from Llangollen, North Wales, shot herself in November 1995, according to a second inquest into her death which concluded in June last year.

Following Pte Gray's death in 2001, Pte James Collinson, 17, from Perth in Scotland, was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the head on 23 March 2002.

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