Fresh inquest into death of Deepcut army recruit found with 5 bullet wounds to his chest

Tony Benton (2L), and his sister Tracy Lewis (2R), the siblings of Private Sean Benton, listen to a statement outside the Royal COurts of Justice, Britain's High Court, in central London on October 14, 2016 © Niklas Halle'n
A new inquest into a second recruit death at the Deepcut army recruit base has been announced only months after another reopened investigation concluded the facility was rife with bullying.

The new investigation comes 21 years after trainee soldier Sean Benton was found dead with five bullet wounds at the Surrey training facility.

He had been on guard duty and the original verdict ruled his death was suicide.

Four recruits died between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, and in June another reopened inquest found that Private Cheryl James’ death in November 1995 was not the result of foul play.

However the inquest was extremely critical of the culture at the Royal Logistic Corps base, finding evidence of bullying and a “highly sexualized” environment.

Both recent inquests were forced through using the Human Rights Act which the government is currently pledging to repeal on the grounds it is used to attack the military with “vexatious” claims.

Benton’s sister Tracy Lewis told the Guardian Friday: “Our family had just 20 years with Sean. It has taken us another 21 to secure the thorough, independent inquiry we should have seen immediately after his death. For that reason, our parents are not here with us to see this day.

She said that the intervening decades had seen the family “tormented by questions about what Sean went through at Deepcut.

If his death had been properly investigated in 1995, we would have been spared years of uncertainty and pain.

The original inquest lasted just two hours and Lewis said that it “should be a source of huge shame to the Ministry of Defence and Surrey police that our mother had to fight for so long.

We look forward to finally discovering the truth,” Lewis added.

Emma Norton, the legal director of Liberty who is representing the family, said: “Just as with the Hillsborough families, the parents of Cheryl James and so many others, the Bentons’ perfectly reasonable questions about their son’s death were met with decades of stonewalling, silence and suspicion.

A date has not yet been set for the inquest to begin.