Fresh inquest into Deepcut death is good news for family of North East soldier

The parents of Geoff Gray hope it means a fresh inquest will be held into their son's death at the notorious Surrey barracks

Geoff and Diane Gray hold a picture of their son Geoff
Geoff and Diane Gray hold a picture of their son Geoff

The mother of North East Deepcut victim Geoff Gray has expressed her delight at the news of a new inquest into the death of soldier Cheryl James at the notorious army barracks.

Diane Gray said it should mean another inquest is held into the death of her son too.

She and husband Geoff Gray Snr hope that after a 13 year battle they will at last find out the truth about what really happened at the Surrey base.

Diane said: “I’m delighted for Cheryl’s family, and as it’s been 20 years since her death it is long overdue.

“We heard the news this morning and though ‘wow’. This sets a precedent for us and we will be vigorously pursuing a new inquest into Geoff’s death with our barrister John Cooper.”

Pvt James, 18, from Denbighshire died in November 1995, one of four soldiers who died at the barracks between 1995 and 2002, sparking allegations of bullying and abuse.

An inquest held soon after her death from a single bullet wound recorded an open verdict.

Her parents believe she had suffered sexual harassment and bullying.

Pvt Sean Benton, 20, from Hastings, East Sussex, was found dead with bullet wounds at the barracks in June 1995, just months before Pvt James’s death.

It was in September 2001, that Pvt Gray, 17, from Seaham, Co Durham, was found with two bullet wounds to his head.

Then six months later, Pvt James Collinson, from Perth, also 17, was found with a single bullet wound upwards through his chin.

The authorities have resisted calls to hold a public inquiry into the deaths and the barracks has since been shut.

Speaking at the High Court yesterday, Mr Justice Mitting and Judge Peter Thornton QC agreed there was “an insufficiency of inquiry” at the 1995 inquest (into Pvt James’s death) and quashed the open verdict recorded.

Judge Thornton said “the discovery of new facts or evidence” made “a fresh investigation including a fresh inquest necessary or desirable in the interests of justice”.

Pvt James’ parents Des and Doreen James applied through human rights campaign group Liberty for a new inquest after the Human Rights Act was used to secure access to documents held by the authorities about the teenager’s death.

The Journal revealed in May how Surrey police had agreed to give the Grays’ barrister John Cooper QC access to some of files from the investigation into Pvt Gray’s death, which he will see in late August or early September.

“These documents could shed new light on Geoff’s death which will provide all the more reason for a new inquest into his death,” said Diane.

“We’ve been fighting for justice since Geoff died and will never give up.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer