England

Sergeant Andrew Gavaghan denies Deepcut abuse

Court drawing of Andrew Gavaghan Image copyright Julia Quenzier
Image caption Mr Gavaghan said the whole story had "changed over the years"

A sergeant accused of bullying recruits at Deepcut barracks jokingly suggested he had a "twin brother" who did the shouting, an inquest heard.

Bullying claims have been made against two instructors - Sgt Andrew Gavaghan and Cpl Martin Holder.

Mr Gavaghan told the Woking hearing: "The 'twin brother' happened very rarely and it was controlled."

Pte Sean Benton, whose inquest is being heard, was the first of four soldiers to die at the barracks in Surrey.

The 20-year-old from Hastings was found with five bullets in his chest in 1995.

Giving evidence at the coroner's court, Mr Gavaghan said he first became aware of Pte Benton when he saw him crying after a friend had left the camp.

'It was in humour'

He said he recognised he was a vulnerable recruit, and Pte Benton confided him when he was feeling down, later becoming aware he had a history of self-harm.

But Mr Gavaghan admitted however, that when he got frustrated with how things were being run - particularly when there was an influx of new recruits - he could shout and be aggressive.

He said after he had an outburst, he would say "that was my twin brother".

Mr Gavaghan said: "I would change so that people would know I was doing that for a reason.

"That is the brother gone now, I am back to being me. And it was in humour."

Image copyright Family handout/PA
Image caption Pte Sean Benton, seen at his passing out in 1994, had not wanted to be discharged from the Army

Later, Mr Gavaghan described the night before Pte Benton was found dead.

He said he noticed the soldier was to be on reserve guard duty, but thought he should not be, because Pte Benton was due to be discharged from the army against his wishes.

Mr Gavaghan said he also knew Pte Benton had undergone psychiatric assessment.

He told the inquest he did not think someone who had been discharged would have the right motivation to guard the camp.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Pte Sean Benton was the first of four young soldiers to die

Mr Gavaghan, who was unofficially in charge of welfare at the base, also said he thought Pte Benton should not have been on guard duty with a weapon because he may have been at risk of self-harm.

For the family, Paul Greaney QC suggested he should have made all those on guard aware Pte Benton was not to have access to a gun - but Mr Gavaghan said he did all he could to prevent the risk by taking the recruit off guard duty.

Mr Greaney said: "The failure to prevent him accessing the weapon was a serious failure on your part and others."

Mr Gavaghan replied he did not accept that.

Then Mr Greaney continued: "If that simple instruction had been given, he would not have got the gun with which he killed himself. You disagree?"

Mr Gavaghan replied: "Yes. There is nobody that knew what was going to happen."

The inquest was adjourned until Monday when Mr Gavaghan will resume giving evidence.

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