Deepcut: New inquest into soldier’s death

An inquest into the death of Sean Benton, who was found dead at the Deepcut army barracks in 1995, will begin on Wednesday.

The young soldier died from gunshot wounds. It is thought that he had been bullied and a previous inquest decided he took his own life.

Pte Sean Benton before his death

Image: It is believed that Pte Sean Benton was bullied

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, which is held in Woking and is expected to continue until the end of March, 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: Older sister Tracey Lewis calls wants the truth

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.

pg Cheryl James deepcut soldiers

Image: Pt Cheryl James was also found dead at Deepcut

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.

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.

Deepcut Barracks

Image: There are allegations of a culture of abuse at the barracks

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.