Surrey

Cheryl James Deepcut death: Soldier's body is exhumed

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Media captionPte Cheryl James died at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in 1995

The body of an 18-year-old soldier found dead at Deepcut Barracks has been exhumed, ahead of a new inquest into her death.

Pte Cheryl James, from Llangollen, Denbighshire, was found with a bullet wound to her head in Surrey in 1995.

A pre-inquest review at Woking Coroner's Court was told her body was exhumed last month and metallic fragments had been recovered.

A fresh inquest into her death is expected to take place in February.

Pte James was one of four young recruits found dead with gunshot wounds at the barracks between 1995 and 2002.

The open verdict recorded at the original inquest held in December 1995 was quashed by High Court judges last year.

Coroner Judge Brian Barker QC told the pre-inquest review that Pte James' remains were exhumed and then reburied after two pathologists carried out a post-mortem examination.

He said the metallic fragments recovered would be subject to ballistic analysis.

The family of Pte James was present during a short reburial ceremony last month, Judge Barker said.

'Significant criticisms'

They had repeatedly called for her body to be exhumed to resolve a dispute over the ballistics evidence.

Alison Foster QC, representing the family, insisted the experts that studied the metallic fragments "ought not to have a significant connection either with the MoD [Ministry of Defence] or indeed a police force and certainly no connection with Surrey Police" owing to a "considerable shadow" over the initial handling of the case.

Of the MoD and Surrey Police, she added: "We make significant criticisms of both."

Judge Barker said "reasonable progress" had been made getting hold of witnesses but urged anyone who had previously given a statement and not been contacted during the inquiry to contact the coroner's court.

At a previous hearing, he said the full inquest would consider whether there were "shortcomings" with the barracks's policies on sexual behaviour, supervision of young females, drugs, alcohol and accommodation.

It is due to begin on 1 February and expected to last for seven weeks.

Surrey Police's request that Pte James' inquest should be heard alongside fresh inquests into the deaths of Privates Sean Benton, Geoff Gray and James Collinson was turned down in May.

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