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Was the investigation into Cheryl's death doomed from the start?

Barry Keevins photo
Barry KeevinsLondon
Was the investigation into Cheryl's death doomed from the start?
Why the army never considered anyone else could have been involved

The army decided Cheryl James had killed herself before their own inquiry into her death had even started.

A report concluded Cheryl took her own life before the first corners inquest into her death and before the Army conducted it's own board of inquiry.

Pte James was found dead near her guard post on Monday morning, November 27, 1995.

The 18-year-old, who was at Deepcut waiting for a posting, was killed by a single gunshot to the head.

The first inquest into her death recorded an open verdict.

A second inquest will take place early next year.

Did the army make up its mind about Cheryl despite coroners doubts?

The discovery of her body and the earlier death of another young recruit, Sean Benton, prompted a review of the training system on the base.

This review, known as the Evans report, concluded Cheryl had taken her own life.

The December 14 report also found no link between the deaths of Cheryl James and Sean Benton.

An inquest held by the Surrey coroner without a jury recorded an open verdict a week later on December 21, 1995.

The army Board of Inquiry set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding Cheryl's death was not assembled until the new year on January 11, 1996.

The board concluded Cheryl had in fact taken her own life and these findings were confirmed in a report a week later on January 19.

Army procedure meant the Board of Inquiry never considered anyone else was involved.

The army board was set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Cheryl.

The outline of procedures and evidence for the Board of Inquiry states; "The initial case report from the Royal Military Police stated Special Investigation Branch from November 29, did not suspect foul play and as a result, the army board of inquiry never considered there could be anybody else involved in Cheryl's death." 

The BoI concluded Cheryl shot herself despite the inquest verdict.

The last major review of the deaths at Deepcut was carried out by Nicholas Blake QC, a lawyer from the same chambers at then Prime Minister's wife Cherie Blair.

Blake dismissed the timing of the Evans Report conclusions as understandable given the urgent need to consider the training regime and the Brigadier's imminent departure from Deepcut.

An earlier review of the investigations by Devon and Cornwall Police considered three possible scenarios in which Cheryl was killed by somebody else and found none of these were ever properly investigated.

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