Surrey

Deepcut soldier Cheryl James' 'rumour' fears

Pte Cheryl James Image copyright Cheryl James's family
Image caption Pte Cheryl James died at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey in 1995

A soldier who was found shot at Deepcut barracks thought people were spreading rumours about her, an inquest heard.

Pte Cheryl James had thought people were "calling her a slag", former Army trainee Catherine Roberts told the inquest at Woking Coroner's Court.

She said Pte James was "upset" when she mentioned name-calling in the canteen four weeks before she died.

Ms Roberts said: "As far as I was concerned I did not hear anything about anyone calling her names."

'Stories going around'

She told the hearing: "She never did say anything about leaving the Army. She never said she did not want to be there any more.

"I recall once she came into the canteen and was upset and stated that people were talking about her, and spoke about people putting rumours around that she was a slapper, which she said she was not - stories going around."

Ms Roberts told the court Pte James had been planning a Christmas shopping trip which showed she was looking to the future.

Image caption A paramedic told the inquest he thought Pte Cheryl James had taken her own life

Pte James, 18, of Llangollen, one of four recruits to die at the Army training camp in Surrey over a seven-year period, was found shot dead at the barracks in 1995.

'Believed it was suicide'

In a written statement, William Porter, a paramedic with the Surrey Ambulance Service, said he arrived at the wooded area where Pte James' body was found at about 08:55 GMT.

He said: "I remember going up a slope a short distance. It was some woods... and seeing a female in Army uniform.

"I believed that her back was against a fir tree and possibly her knees raised. I could see a wound to the right side of her head.

"I could not see any sign of life. From what I could see I believed it was a suicide," Mr Porter said.

Insp Timothy Mackie, a MoD police officer, who was a sergeant in 1995, said Pte James' body was lying face down when he arrived at the barracks.

He said the undergrowth had been disturbed and the ground was damp, even though it had not been raining.

In his written statement, he said: "The body was face down. I do not remember seeing any wounds or a rifle."

He said he remembered being told by a police inspector as he left the scene that Pte James had a wound to her forehead.

Insp Mackie said: "I remember finding that strange because I could not recall an exit wound."

The hearing was adjourned until Monday.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Privates Benton, James, Gray and Collinson all died at Deepcut between 1995 and 2002

Who were the Deepcut four? Background to the deaths and timeline of events

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