Hope of second inquest for family of Seaham soldier found dead at Deepcut

INQUEST HOPE: Private Geoff Gray, who died in mysterious circumstances at Deepcut Barracks

INQUEST HOPE: Private Geoff Gray, who died in mysterious circumstances at Deepcut Barracks

First published in News The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Regional Chief Reporter

A RULING by the Attorney General has given the family of an Army recruit found dead in his barracks fresh hope of a new investigation.

The original inquest into the death of Private Geoff Gray, of Seaham, County Durham, who was found with two gunshot wounds to the head in 2001, recorded an open verdict.

But the private’s father, also called Geoff, is considering whether to seek a new investigation after Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC allowed the family of Pte Cheryl James to request a new inquest into her death.

Privates Gray and James were among four recruits who died at Deepcut Barracks, in Surrey, between 1995 and 2002 amid claims of bullying and abuse at the base.

Mr Gary, who now lives in London, said he was delighted the family of Pte James had been allowed permission to ask the High Court to grant a second inquest.

Although the soldiers’ families have been calling for a public inquiry into all the deaths, Mr Gray said he would like a new inquest into his son’s death.

“I’m already talking to my legal team and we’re going to have to decide what we’re going to do," he said.

“It’s my opinion that the Attorney General can’t grant one new inquest and not grant others.”

Mr Gray said that since the first inquest, new evidence into his son’s death had emerged, including claims a gun being used by a lance corporal at Deepcut on the night of the shooting was found to be warm.

“The only conclusion I can come to is that if there is a warm gun it has been used,” Mr Gray said, adding: “There were many things that weren’t brought before the first inquest, including evidence that emerged most surprisingly from the Army’s own board of inquiry.”

Privates Gray, James, Sean Benton and James Collinson all died from gunshot wounds at Deepcut.

A coroner recorded a verdict of suicide for Mr Benton, but inquests into the other three deaths returned open verdicts.

Second inquests can only be held if the High Court quashes the original verdict, following an application by the Attorney General, or someone else acting with his permission.

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