Deepcut, another death, more evidence? Killers at large?

The Audible Original podcast, released Saturday, is produced by Sarah Thomson and John Battsek (who has won Oscars and Baftas for his many documentaries, including Searching for Sugar Man and Hillsborough). It follows a 12-month investigation by journalist Jane MacSorley (who, as a producer for BBC Scotland, first linked the four deaths at Deepcut in 2002) and retired detective chief inspector Colin Sutton, who was involved in the investigations into two of the four deaths.

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Deepcut's new scandal: how a mystery death has reopened a 20-year-old wound​


Between 1995 and 2002 four young army recruits died at Deepcut. A new podcast reveals a fifth death - and fresh insights into the scandal

Deepcut is the wound to the British Army that has never healed.

Between 1995 and 2002 four recruits – the so-called ‘Deepcut Four’ – were found shot dead in separate incidents at the former Army training camp in Surrey. Sean Benton, 20; Cheryl James, 18; Geoff Gray, 17, and James Collinson, also 17, were all on guard duty at the time of their deaths. In each case, the army concluded that the young soldiers had taken their own lives.
It was a conclusion that their grieving families could never accept, leading to a protracted process of inquests, investigations and reviews, which revealed evidence of horrific bullying, abuse and negligence at Deepcut – and chronic failings in the investigations by both the Army and Surrey police.

The incidents at the camp became a national scandal, the subject of innumerable newspaper investigations and television documentaries. Now, when it was widely assumed that Deepcut had been consigned to history, there are more disturbing revelations.

A new eight-part podcast, Death At Deepcut, reveals that evidence that might have answered important questions about the deaths of Benton, James, Gray and Collinson was either ignored, overlooked or buried. And for the first time, it reveals a fifth mysterious death. In July 2001, a 26-year-old recruit named Anthony Bartlett was found dead in his room from a presumed drug overdose – a death that was not made public at the time, nor properly investigated or explained.

Thousands of recruits passed through the camp during the period in question – usually 17- to 22-year-olds, for whom the Army had a clear duty of care. But it was obvious that Deepcut was low on the Army’s priorities. There was chronic understaffing. Generally in the field army, the ratio of NCOs (non-commissioned officers, usually sergeants or corporals) to soldiers is between one to 15, and one to 20. At Deepcut, in 1995 – the year Benton and James died – the ratio was more often one to 80, and could be one to 200 in daylight hours, and one to 300-400 out of hours.

But the problem was not just the low numbers of NCOs, it was the quality. One female NCO talks of it being a ‘dumping ground’ for NCOs who were not wanted elsewhere.

‘The whole place was toxic, both in the sense of the numbers and the lack of opportunity to be occupied with something meaningful,’ says Sutton. ‘It was just a routine of guard duty, drill, cleaning your kit. The staff there found it difficult to motivate themselves. It was almost a place where the devil makes work for idle hands.’
Former soldiers talk of Deepcut as being ‘like a prison culture’, where instructors had ‘total power’ over recruits, who were often subjected to ritual humiliation and bullying – ‘a constant battery of psychological pain’, as one recruit puts it.

Few things typify the dysfunction at Deepcut more than the case, described in the podcast, of 18-year-old Private Mark Harrison and NCO Leslie Skinner. Skinner was a former warrant officer 2nd class (WO2) in the Royal Logistics Corps, who, following a court martial in Northern Ireland for indecent exposure in 1996, had been demoted to private. (It would subsequently emerge that prior to his court martial, he had also indecently assaulted two male trainees when stationed at Aldershot.)

At that time, Deepcut provided a depot function, where soldiers awaiting discharge could be posted. Skinner arrived at Deepcut in October 1996. Despite his demotion he was billeted in NCO quarters and assigned to gym training – a job affording him close proximity to young recruits who were led to believe he held the rank of WO2.

On two consecutive nights, it is alleged, Skinner led a terrified Harrison to his room and raped him. ‘From then on I was tainted,’ he told MacSorley. ‘I hated myself for being weak and letting that happen to me. That period has dictated the rest of my life from that day on.’

Harrison told nobody, but another recruit whom Skinner had attempted to abuse did report him. The Royal Military Police (RMP) were called in to investigate, but it was a further six months before Skinner was kicked out of Deepcut. In September 2004, Skinner pleaded guilty to various offences of indecent assault against young soldiers and was sentenced to four and a half years’ imprisonment.

Harrison was not the only victim of what one soldier describes as ‘a predator’s paradise’. Female recruits were ‘treated as meat. It was a drinking culture, and with the drinking came everything else.’ One anonymous female recruit claims she suffered 11 instances of ‘harassment, exploitation and rape’.

Incidents were dealt with by the RMP based at Aldershot. According to Gavin Shankley, a former RMP corporal, they would be called to the camp ‘on a regular basis for thefts, fights and sexual assaults. The lack of military discipline within Deepcut was shocking. I was very proud of the British Army, but it failed that camp as far as I’m concerned.’ The RMP were called to Deepcut so often that they ended up setting up a base there to try to crack down on the crimes.

There is an abundance of evidence to suggest why recruits at Deepcut could have been unhappy and terrified enough to entertain suicidal thoughts. But what is so striking is the failure of process, and the anomalies and inconsistencies in all the investigations into the deaths that led to the conclusions of suicide. It looks like a rush to judgment.

(See full telegraph article or listen to the podcast for infor on the below)

Sean Benton: June 1995

Cheryl James: November 1995​

Geoff Gray: September 2001

James Collinson: March 2002



Eight months before James Collinson’s death, and just two months before the death of Geoff Gray, there was another suspicious death at Deepcut, which has never been reported, until now.

Anthony Bartlett: July 2001​

Anthony Bartlett was 26, older than most recruits, and the father of a young son. He had been at the barracks for five months when he died. He came from a military family. ‘He’d always wanted to join up,’ says his elder brother Steve, himself a former soldier and later a police officer. ‘He just wanted to get into his uniform.’

Approached by Ventureland, the producers of the podcast, about the enquiries into the deaths of Benton, James and Gray, Surrey police replied that they had ‘previously accepted that mistakes were made during the initial stages of investigations into these deaths, including a failure to properly capture forensic evidence and to maintain 
primacy for the investigations. That these errors resulted in further suffering for the families remains a matter of deep regret. We have previously apologised for this, and we continue to reiterate that apology.’

In October 2018, following the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Sean Benton, and at the request of his family, Surrey police opened a new investigation into allegations of assault and misconduct in public office at Deepcut in the years during which the five soldiers lost their lives. That investigation remains ongoing.

Podcast preview

 
And as we know officially, all is in order and there is nothing to see here
 
At that time, Deepcut provided a depot function, where soldiers awaiting discharge could be posted. Skinner arrived at Deepcut in October 1996. Despite his demotion he was billeted in NCO quarters and assigned to gym training – a job affording him close proximity to young recruits who were led to believe he held the rank of WO2.
What NCO quarters?
 
Do tell more

NCOs dont normally have separate quarters, pads are split between ORs and officers, singlies are split between Junior ranks barracks, Sgt/WOs Mess and Officers Mess.
 
Do tell more
NCOs dont normally have separate quarters, pads are split between ORs and officers, singlies are split between Junior ranks barracks, Sgt/WOs Mess and Officers Mess.
What @stacker1 said.

For SFA there are officers and other ranks SFA, you might get an area of the estate where pockets of rank traditionally lived, but Officers get their SFA type based on rank, everyone else gets them based on family size & number of bedrooms required

Single accommodation is based on rank - Junior Ranks, SNCO/Sgts mess and Officers mess (with junior officers getting the same bed sit room type as the Sgts mess and senior officers getting a ‘suite’ of sitting room and bedroom.

‘Despite his demotion’ from WO2 to Private might mean he kept his room in the Sgts mess, which would mean he was in the ‘wrong’ type of accommodation, or he was in SFA in a traditionaly SNCOs area but the right type for his family size and no particular reason to move.
With ‘taken to his room’ I would assume this to have been in the mess, but still could have been his room in SFA.
Potentially using the general term of ‘quarters’ as accommodation rather than the older terms ‘married quarters’ and ‘single accommodation’
 

exsniffer

Old-Salt
What @stacker1 said.

For SFA there are officers and other ranks SFA, you might get an area of the estate where pockets of rank traditionally lived, but Officers get their SFA type based on rank, everyone else gets them based on family size & number of bedrooms required

Single accommodation is based on rank - Junior Ranks, SNCO/Sgts mess and Officers mess (with junior officers getting the same bed sit room type as the Sgts mess and senior officers getting a ‘suite’ of sitting room and bedroom.

‘Despite his demotion’ from WO2 to Private might mean he kept his room in the Sgts mess, which would mean he was in the ‘wrong’ type of accommodation, or he was in SFA in a traditionaly SNCOs area but the right type for his family size and no particular reason to move.
With ‘taken to his room’ I would assume this to have been in the mess, but still could have been his room in SFA.
Potentially using the general term of ‘quarters’ as accommodation rather than the older terms ‘married quarters’ and ‘single accommodation’
IRRC from my time at Deepcut private soldiers lived in 8 man rooms and JNCO's and some senior toms lived in one man bunks . They were all in the same blocks and shared ablution rooms. As to the arrangements in the female accommodation I have no idea, honest.
 
Since the last death at Deepcut there have been approx 1500 student suicides at UK universities - a couple of years ago Bristol saw 11 students suicides in 18 months. If you get young people in a place together, under pressure of any form, there will be suicides.

It’s tragic but the conspiracy bollocks placed around this is just not helping anyone (least of all the families IMO) (and I say that having lost my own daughter through suicide less than a year ago)
 
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What @stacker1 said.

For SFA there are officers and other ranks SFA, you might get an area of the estate where pockets of rank traditionally lived, but Officers get their SFA type based on rank, everyone else gets them based on family size & number of bedrooms required

Single accommodation is based on rank - Junior Ranks, SNCO/Sgts mess and Officers mess (with junior officers getting the same bed sit room type as the Sgts mess and senior officers getting a ‘suite’ of sitting room and bedroom.

‘Despite his demotion’ from WO2 to Private might mean he kept his room in the Sgts mess, which would mean he was in the ‘wrong’ type of accommodation, or he was in SFA in a traditionaly SNCOs area but the right type for his family size and no particular reason to move.
With ‘taken to his room’ I would assume this to have been in the mess, but still could have been his room in SFA.
Potentially using the general term of ‘quarters’ as accommodation rather than the older terms ‘married quarters’ and ‘single accommodation’

If the original story in the OPs first post is to be believed the bloke was busted in Northern Ireland, not a chance he would he moved into the mess at another unit.

Its sounds like the author has heard a second hand story and is guessing because they dont know the more trivial rules of the army. They also guess how the military talk, I dont think Ive ever said "billeted" in my life.
 
Army - Juniors have bedspaces or bunks, Seniors & officers have rooms in their respective messes.

RN - Have cabin or bunks.

RAF - Have room service.
 
Since the last death at Deepcut there have been approx 1500 student suicides at UK universities - a couple of years ago Bristol saw 11 students suicides in 18 months. If you get young people in a place together, under pressure of any form, there will be suicides.

It’s tragic but the conspiracy bollocks placed around this is just not helping anyone (least of all the families IMO) (and I say that having lost my own daughter through suicide less than a year ago)
Sorry to hear that, I am genuinely sad to hear that and wish yourself and the rest of your family all the best.
 
Since the last death at Deepcut there have been approx 1500 student suicides at UK universities - a couple of years ago Bristol saw 11 students suicides in 18 months. If you get young people in a place together, under pressure of any form, there will be suicides.

It’s tragic but the conspiracy bollocks placed around this is just not helping anyone (least of all the families IMO) (and I say that having lost my own daughter through suicide less than a year ago)
Sincerest apologies for the loss you and your family have suffered.

You have hit the nail on the head in terms of numbers. If students at Unis had access to semi-automatic weapons and little supervision I dare say the numbers would be a lot higher? Perhaps the Deepcut suicides are actually low compared to similar situations outside of the military?
 
Sincerest apologies for the loss you and your family have suffered.

You have hit the nail on the head in terms of numbers. If students at Unis had access to semi-automatic weapons and little supervision I dare say the numbers would be a lot higher? Perhaps the Deepcut suicides are actually low compared to similar situations outside of the military?

Look up the “Werther effect” - that suicide can be almost contagious. As seen a few years ago in Bridgend. The Truth About the Bridgend Suicides - Feature Shoot

There’s also a couple of other things that have happened recently, which are interesting.

Government red tape challenge in 2013 led to the review of poisons legislation, removing need for a licence for the sale of ‘part 2’ chemicals:


This was supposed to be backed up by a mandatory requirement for anyone selling part 2 chemicals to report any suspicious sales.

However, by 2020 we had several ‘regulation 28’ reports (prevention of future deaths) identifying the ingestion of Sodium Nitrite (a part 2 chemical) which had been sold online in small amounts



These reports have specifically identified the sale of high purity sodium nitrite online in small quantities as having a significant role to play in the deaths

To the best of my knowledge, no companies have been prosecuted for supplying, or failing to report suspicious sales of, sodium nitrite
 
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I couldn't get past the first ten minutes of the podcast after being told that Pirbright provides "a 12 week training course that all recruits to the British army go through"
Well researched I can tell. I hope the rest of it had slightly more effort put in.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
Is this thread about Catterick?

I certainly hope it is.:roll:
 

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