Surrey

Deepcut inquest: Pte Cheryl James 'reduced to tears by sergeant'

Pte Cheryl James
Image caption Pte Cheryl James was found dead with a bullet wound to the head

A teenage soldier found dead at Deepcut barracks was reduced to tears by a sergeant, an inquest has heard.

Daniel Griffiths, who was a trainee with Pte Cheryl James at the Surrey barracks, said he saw her being shouted at by Sgt Andrew Gavaghan.

He said the incident happened late in the summer of 1995.

Sgt Gavaghan has previously told the inquest in Woking he did not meet Pte James until the morning of her death on 27 November 1995.

Pte James was found dead near the perimeter fence with a bullet wound to the head.

The 18-year-old from Llangollen, Denbighshire, was one of four recruits to die at the base in seven years.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The body of Pte Cheryl James was found near the perimeter fence

Mr Griffiths said told the hearing it was quite common for recruits to be upset after being disciplined.

"There was a lot of crying going on, but that was the only time I saw Cheryl cry," he said, adding Pte James would usually laugh at people when they told her off.

Mr Griffiths claimed that one night he saw Sgt Gavaghan shouting loudly at Pte James behind a building at Deepcut.

He thought the location indicated it was something Sgt Gavaghan "didn't want anyone to hear".

Afterwards Pte James wouldn't tell him what the incident was about but, he said, she never told him she was dissatisfied with life in the Army.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Privates Benton, James, Gray and Collinson died at Deepcut between 1995 and 2002

Who were the Deepcut four? Background to the deaths and timeline of events.

Later, the inquest heard from Lt Col Robert Gascoigne, who commanded Pte James's squadron at Deepcut.

Under cross examination by Alison Foster QC, representing Pte James's family, he accepted life for Deepcut recruits could have been better, but said those in charge did the best they could with limited resources.

The system was "just about fit for purpose", he said.

He had requested more resources, but failed to get them because the Army had other priorities.

Lt Col Gascoigne also told the court he regarded Sgt Gavaghan as a "professional individual doing his job".

He said Sgt Gavaghan was particularly good at welfare issues.

An initial inquest into Pte James's death in 1995 recorded an open verdict but that was overturned by the High Court, which ordered the new hearing.

The inquest was adjourned until Wednesday.

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