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Army death wrongly recorded as suicide

8-year-old Pte Cheryl James died at Deepcut barracks in 1995, which, at the time, was recorded as suicide.  A second inquest into her death has, however, recognised that her death, originally recorded as suicide amid allegations of bullying and abuse at the barracks, may not have been suicide.  20 years later, the army has apologised to her family, for “failing” young recruits.  The inquest heard from Brig John Donnelly, the Army’s director of personal services, that the army had not been fully aware of the risks of leaving young soldiers to carry out guard duty alone.  He told the coroner: “I recognise we didn’t put sufficient guidance in place”, and added: “I owe Mr and Mrs James an apology for those failings”.

One of four recruits to die in barrack shootings in five-years

Earlier in the enquiry, Alison Foster QC, representing Pte James’ family, told the hearing that a Surrey police officer had questioned the verdict of suicide when investigating the circumstances in which Pte James’ body was found.  In a statement made by the officer in 2002, the inquest heard that: “There was no exit wound, the apparent lack of blood on the ground, the way in which the hood of (her) waterproof jacket was covering the face...any one of these indicators would not cause suspicion...but taken together, they ask questions about the way and the matter of Private James’ death”.

The young woman from Llangollen was one of four recruits to lose her life to shootings in a five-year period at the Deepcut barracks.

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