Pte Sean Benton inquest ‘to consider Deepcut bullying’

A fresh inquest into the death of an army recruit will examine whether he was bullied and harassed at the army base before he died.

Pte Sean Benton, 20, was found with five gunshot wounds at Deepcut Barracks, in June 1995.

His death was originally recorded as suicide, but a second inquest was ordered after a campaign by the family.

Its scope has been widened to look at all the circumstances of the death of the soldier, from Hastings, Sussex.

A pre-inquest hearing at the Old Bailey heard the full inquest, expected to be next January, would look at how Pte Benton died and whether there was “any third party action”.

Pte Benton’s “state of mind” will be probed, as well as how he was assessed and disciplined.

In addressing a 10-point list, the inquest will also look at whether he was “subjected to bullying and harassment”.  This is a significant – and welcome – development as the families have been calling for a full examination at Deepcut for years.  While the MoD has made progress in trying to tackle bullying in army, the way in which vulnerable young people are treated continues to give cause for concern.

Clare Stevens