Deepcut: New inquest due into soldier’s death

A new inquest will look into the death of a young soldier who died from gunshot wounds at the Deepcut army barracks in 1995.

The inquest will open on Wednesday into the death of Private Sean Benton.

Pte Sean Benton before his death

Image: Sean was ‘kind, sensitive and thoughtful’ – but that could have made him a target

It is thought that he had been bullied; a previous inquest decided he took his own life.

But after three other recruits died in the following seven years, we now know much more about the culture of abuse at the military base.

Private Benton’s family hope that this inquest will get to the truth, but his parents did not live long enough to see the investigation they long demanded.

His father died in 2011 and his mother four years later.

Older sister Tracey Lewis calls for the "truth" in new inquest expected to start on Wednesday

Image: Tracey Lewis says she finally wants the truth about what happened to her brother

His sister, Tracey Lewis, told Sky News she now wants closure: “It’s been too long. My mum tried. It was like hitting a brick wall. There’s been allegations of abuse, physically and mentally.

“I want the truth what happened to him. Why was he in that environment, that culture?”

She says her brother was “kind, sensitive and thoughtful”, but it is possible such qualities were seen as signs of weakness and may have made him a target.

Last year, at a new inquest into the death of Private Cheryl James, who also died in 1995, the Army said major changes had now been made to the way young recruits were supervised.

pg Cheryl James deepcut soldiers

Image: Cheryl James died at the same barracks in 1995

In fact the latest recruitment campaign focuses on mental and emotional support for young soldiers.

Ms Lewis agrees such a proactive approach may have made a difference to her brother: “Because people don’t want to join the Army, they’re taking that different approach. But I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”

She said it would “definitely” have saved his life.

Her solicitor, Emma Norton, said: “The way the Army deals with mental health, the way it supports soldiers who’ve returned from operations overseas, the welfare support that it gives them, the way it looks after women in particular, these are still issues it still needs to work on.

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“So we don’t accept that you can just consign this to history.”

The original coroner’s hearing was wrapped up in less than two hours. The new inquest is expected to last several weeks.