THE family of a teenage soldier who died at Deepcut barracks have won their bid for a fresh inquest.

Private Geoff Gray, 17, from Seaham, was found with two gunshot wounds to his head on September 17, 2001.

His family has been campaigning for 15 years after an inquest into his death, held in March 2002, recorded an open verdict.

Loading article content

The High Court granted their application for a new inquest at a hearing yesterday.

The soldier’s parents Geoff and Diane were present in court for the ruling.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Gray 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.”

Pte Gray was one of four young soldiers who died from gunshots at the Surrey barracks between 1995 and 2002.

Private Sean Benton, 20, from Hastings, East Sussex, was found with five bullet wounds to his chest in June 1995 while undergoing training.

Private Cheryl James, from Llangollen in North Wales, was 18 when she died, in November 1995 and Private James Collinson, 17, from Perth, was found dead with a single gunshot wound through his chin on March 23 2002.

The culture of the camp in Surrey was put under the spotlight during a second inquest into the death of Pte James, which took place last year.

During the hearing, which concluded that Pte James had shot herself, Coroner Brian Barker launched a scathing attack on welfare standards at Deepcut, saying the barracks had failed in its duty of care to its young recruits.

A culture of sexual promiscuity and heavy drinking was also highlighted.

A second inquest into the death of Pte Benton is due to take place next January.

Earlier this year, the Gray family won the right to apply to the High Court for a new inquest after Attorney General Jeremy Wright said he was satisfied fresh evidence had come to light.

Lord Justice Bean, Mrs Justice Carr and Judge Mark Lucraft granted the application at a hearing in London on Tuesday.

They ruled it was “necessary or desirable in the interests of justice” for a fresh inquest to he held.

The judges ordered the quashing of the 2002 inquest “together with the verdict and findings of that inquest”.

Lord Justice Bean, announcing the decision of the court, said: “We will order that Her Majesty’s senior coroner for Surrey, or such other coroner as the Lord Chief Justice shall appoint at the request of the chief coroner, is to conduct an investigation ... into the death of Private Gray.”

He added that the scope of the inquest and whether it should sit with a jury would be a matter for the coroner.

The Grays have been helped by John Cooper QC and assisted by Louise Scott as they waded through thousands of documents relating to their son. During the hearing, Mr Cooper told the court there were more than 22,000 pages of fresh evidence, some of which he submitted was “highly relevant”.

Mrs Gray, who described the new evidence as “compelling” added: “We would like to thank the judges for their consideration and for the verdict we have been waiting on for so long.”

Lord Justice Bean said the coroner had taken no active part in the application, and correspondence indicated that the Ministry of Defence “do not wish to contest an order for a fresh inquest”.